Don Ewing - "My Biggest Community Hero"

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I may be biased but Dad’s my biggest community hero. As far back as I can remember, Dad’s passion for Gunnedah steered what we did on our weekends. My brothers and I followed him everywhere.

My whole childhood is full of these memories.

APEX. Dad joined APEX when he was 18 and became a life member at 41. In those days you had to retire at the age of 40. Dad held many positions on the board over those 22 years including President. I remember playing with the other kids while our dads built so many projects - the old tourist information centre and water fountain opposite the pool, the BBQ shelters on Porcupine Hill, all the landscaping around Yallambie homes, trips to Smiggin Holes to help build the APEX chalet for underprivileged children, running the Gunnedah Gallop every year which Dad started with Ken Renton 40 years ago and is still sponsored by Ewing Real Estate and Renton Pest Control and NVI today. All the APEX crew would head back to Stumpy Eathers house after the Gallop to watch the NRL grand final which in those days was mostly Parramatta and Manly.

Every Christmas APEX would host a BBQ in the park underneath the Band Hall and Santa would visit and give out presents. JUNIOR RUGBY I spent most Sunday’s every winter following my dad over our region as coach for Junior Rugby which along with Bruce Walsh he started in 1979. Dad held the position of president for Junior Rugby for 17 years. He coached many central north sides and occasionally would chuck a jersey on me to make up the numbers.

Dad has always said that he is very grateful for the 3 things that changed his life - the first and most important, meeting my mum, Desley, the second, being introduced to Rugby and the 3rd joining APEX. As a kid growing up Dad played on the wrong side of the tracks and Mum banned him from telling us kids all the naughty things he used to get up to behind his parents backs. Rugby and APEX gave Dad a new direction in life and an involvement in our community he never expected.

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Dad is the only local bloke to have played in 2 winning grand finals for the Gunnedah Red Devils – senior grade. 1970 and 1976. Dad was a huge part of acquiring the existing land where the Gunnedah Rugby club sits today. He played a huge part in helping raise the money for the new Rugby Club, especially helping run the infamous Gunnedah Rugby Club New Years Eve B&S ball, and even helped build the club itself. Dad has been President of the Gunnedah Rugby Club a few times and is a Life Member.

Another big memory for me is walking the streets of Gunnedah door knocking for the SALVATION ARMY RED SHIELD APPEAL. Dad co-ordinated this for more than 35 years. This was my first introduction too how much this community is willing to give. I would walk away from a house with a fresh $100 cheque in my collection bag quite a few times and this was 30 years ago. NOW, with my own involvement in local organisations such as PRAMS and Rotary 2380, I am still in awe about how giving our community is.

Which brings me to Dad’s current involvement in Rotary. After APEX he joined Rotary and has been involved for almost 30 years. About 9 years ago, concerned about the future of Rotary in this town not attracting the younger generations, he got together with some other Rotarians to help form a new club call Rotary Club of Gunnedah 2380 a more modern version club that suits a busy person’s lifestyle. This club still has the same vision as the other clubs in town but without all the old school tradition and stricter meeting times that can be a little unattractive to some. Dad is one of many great Gunnedah Rotarians to be awarded the Paul Harris Fellow.

So there you have it. A brief history about why Don Ewing has been asked to participate in the Community Recognition event. There is so much more to write but I guess there are so many more of you reading this that deserve to be in this too. I have the privilege of selling Gunnedah to many people in my line of work and its actually not hard to do. So many people move here for the “2 year plan” and end up staying forever. It’s a town that people fall in love with and the number one reason is because of the wonderful people that give back to this community.

Lauren Robertson

Don is a nominee in our "Personality Of The Year 2016" contest as part of our One Year Celebrations. The winners of this contest will be presented at our "People Of Gunnedah" Photo Exhibition on August 27th, 2016 at the Work Of Art Community Gallery.