Don symbol of times past

February 09, 2017

Don Polkinghorne was recently presented a certificate of appreciation for his 30 years of service to the Murchison Pool.

Today we salute a man whose deeds have remained largely unsung outside his small community.

But anyone who lives in Murchison, and particularly anyone with children or enjoys a swim, owes a debt of gratitude to Don Polkinghorne.

Even though Don has maintained the community swimming pool for more than 30 years, it is not only Murchison parents and swimmers that should be grateful for his services.

Murchison’s Historical Society, Australia Day committee, bowls club, Murchison Action Group and footy club are just some of the groups that have benefited from Don’s generosity and skills.

He even made the star that lights up in Meteorite Park.

As Murchison’s Australia Day committee president Robert Brown said: ‘‘He just does things and doesn’t need thanks for it.’’

Well, today on page four we thank Don and the dwindling numbers of people like him who have built country towns to survive through the tough times and the good.

At 88 Don comes from a time before the internet, Facebook, or even television.

His lifetime of quiet community contributions such as cleaning the local pool, fixing things, painting walls and generally brightening up the place belongs to a time when selfless duty and service to fellow citizens was not unusual.

People met face-to-face, formed committees and got on with the job of improving their towns.

Clubs such as Kiwanis, Lions, Apex and Rotary were the engine rooms of community energy.

They provided people power for projects and fundraisers that lifted everyone up and also built networks for business and support throughout small towns.

Some of these service clubs still exist and do a sterling job at community service.

But overall, times have changed.

Things have sped up and gone global.

Everyone is talking to everyone from the comfort of their lounge rooms, cars and offices.

And although the internet has brought instant information and conversation to our fingertips, it has also eaten into our personal time to the extent that doing things for no reward seems a pointless exercise.

Except for people like Don who still gives freely of his time.

But Don and his like won’t be here forever, so what do we do when they’re gone?

The internet of things may clean pools, fix gates and perhaps paint walls.

They can even build virtual communities, but can they build real ones?

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