Sat, Jun 8, 2024 2:00 PM

Long-time Lion insists his strength comes from the pack


Elise Vollweiler

If Bill Menzies was a different sort of man and was willing to sing his own praises, he’d have a magnificent career as a soloist.

Instead, the Brooklyn resident refuses to take an ounce of individual credit for any of his myriad achievements within his time in the Lions Foundation, insisting that he has just been very much part of the choir.

Bill has been honoured with the Melvin Jones Fellow, “for dedicated humanitarian services”. This is the highest honour to be bestowed upon Lions Foundation members and is essentially a lifetime achievement award for outstanding service to the recipient’s community.

The award came as a complete surprise to Bill.

“I didn’t know until I was stood up at the meeting, so it was a very short speech from Bill that night,” he laughs.

Despite Bill’s reluctance to hog the spotlight, Motueka Lions president Mike Brown says that the long-serving member has been a lynchpin in many of the club’s endeavours.

From the hugely popular potato sales to the annual fertilizer drive and the ongoing kindling sales, which all add to the Lions’ resources and considerable outreach, Bill has had a steady hand in it all.

He was instrumental in the establishment of a joint Motueka-Greymouth fundraiser, sending surplus granny smith apples down the West Coast, and the only one who knows how to fix the temperamental century-old machinery that is used to sow and harvest the spuds.

“I’ve never felt like I did anything special,” the 80-year-old insists.

The jack-of-all-trades also makes cracker kiwifruit wine, although he learned to dial back the sugars after a friend told him that “I can’t get over the bridge if I have two”.

His estimate that he engages with Lion duties one day a week was fondly scoffed at by his loved ones in the room. Later, Mike said that Bill was always the one who had happened to have popped to the Riwaka-based potato patch on any given morning to offer the committee an update about how the crop was doing.

Bill served 25 years in the Motueka Lions Club as well as a long stint on the West Coast prior to moving to this area. He has also served as a Motueka Lions president.

Bill and Lynette, his wife of 58 years, made the permanent move to Christchurch late last week, for health reasons, but Bill says he remains a Motueka Lion.

“It’s been great, because a lion never hunts alone, that’s the way I think.”

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