Life for Chopper
By TIM HOWARD and TONY WHITE
IF you are made a life member of the Far North West and Far North Coast associations of Services swimming clubs, you can be sure you've earned it.
Grafton's Neville Hackett joined one of sport's most select groups two weekends ago when he was made a life member of both assocations at the Zone swimming carnival at Moree.
It's not an award the associations, which comprise swimming clubs from Bellngen in the south to Currumbin in the north and west to Moree, give away lightly.
In fact the only other life members of the association, Lismore's Ashley Grainger and Jim Mann, from Goondiwindi are both in their 70s.
Grafton Services Club president Stephen Donnelly acknowledged the rarity of the honour.
"They're bloody hard to get. Chopper (Hackett) will be 80 in March and he's been a member for 33 years," Donnelly said.
"He's been president for two years, secretary for three, vice-president for four years, publicity officer for 13 years and on the committee for six years.
"And no-one at Moree could remember Nev ever missing a carnival since he joined in 1973."
Both the other life members spoke at the Zone meeting in Moree on February 11 when Nev was awarded life membership.
"I just couldn't believe it," Hackett said. "Stephen (Donnelly) gave a great speech and I was taken aback by what was said.
"They gave me a standing ovation when I was called up. It's an absolute honour, fantastic.
"Apparently this (life membership) has been in the pipeline for some time, but I had no idea.
"I'm very grateful."