Kevin Darragh

Kevin Darragh

Citation Speech for Kevin Darragh

The Rotary Club has a motto, “Service Before Self”, and as Kevin Darragh puts it, that is how he has attempted to live his life. Tonight will hopefully show Kevin that not only did he attempt to live his life this way, he achieved it and his efforts are widely appreciated by the community.

The Darragh name is synonymous with Feilding and Kevin has continued the legacy of his family through his business pursuits and voluntary work. With a background in retail, Kevin joined Rotary Club in 1981 and as the secretary of Rotary Club Feilding Rex Wheeler put’s it, Kevin “has always been fully committed and involved with all aspects of the Club. Whether it be splitting firewood, manning a barbeque, building products to sell, organising a raffle, bar service, fundraising, Club duties, organising working bees or long term Christmas tree grower he has always given in the only way he knows how…with his very best”.

His efforts with Rotary Club saw him receive international recognition through the Paul Harris Fellow in 2013. Other notable recipients of this honour include Mother Theresa, Pope John Paul II, Prince Charles and Kofi Annan. It’s not bad company to be amongst.

Through Rotary Club, Kevin eventually became involved with Manchester House as a board member at first, before being thrust 18 months later into the Chair’s role, and as he says himself, he had very little idea about what he was letting himself in for. But Kevin’s long association with Feilding made the job much easier, as he had the contacts that he needed to make an impact.

Manchester House just sucks you in, as Kevin puts it, and with so many different aspects to the beast that it is, he learned very quickly that you have to be over everything. A restructure of the organisation was required to ensure its survival and sustainability and Kevin’s business acumen changed how Manchester House operates.

It wasn’t easy and it required people who thought of Manchester House solely as a charitable organisation to think of it as a business that needed to live within its means. As Ann Williamson says in her nomination form, “relationship building and communication is an important attribute when talking to and with all stakeholders, Kevin’s calm and non-judgemental persona makes him ideal for when dealing with sticky or confrontational issues. He’s dependable and when he says he will do something he does it!”

He worked skillfully and diligently to galvanise the people under his leadership to pull in the same direction. And Manchester House are now reaping the benefits of Kevin’s time in charge with a much more solid financial footing. Whilst he may no longer be Chair, he is still the Treasurer so we can be assured of that financial security moving forward.

Kevin says that Feilding has always been at the heart of his thoughts, and it shines through while speaking to him. He’s clearly passionate about his work in the community and his family’s legacy on the town. He is reluctant to talk about himself and when he’s asked about how it feels to receive a Community Honour, he says “oh goodness gracious me. I’ve nominated other people and put others up for nomination, but not for one moment did I think anyone would think of me. I’m absolutely thrilled, and so is my wife Jill. I feel very, very humbled”.

Don’t expect a long speech out of Kevin tonight, he likes to keep things short and sweet. And likewise, we’ll finish with a short and sweet statement from Rex Wheeler about this man here.

Kevin Darragh, a taonga of our community.