Welcome to the Rotary Club of Corowa

Our Club was chartered on May 17th 1939 by the Rotary Club of Albury and we are the second oldest Club in Rotary District 9790.

We currently have 40 members and are actively working in promoting Polio Plus, which is aimed at eradicating polio world wide. We also support local community projects including school bursaries, adopt a highway clean-up program, exchange students and many more. In 2014 we took over organisation of the Federation Festival and started to reinvigorate the Federation monthly market and Federation (B&S) Ball. In 2016 we introduced Federation Dinner and Tim Fischer Oration to be held on the Friday of the Australia Day weekend and revived the Federation Parade. 

About the Rotary Club of Corowa

History of the Club

To find out more about our long and distinguished history please click on the icon above

Rotary International

To find out more about Rotary International please click on the icon above

Honour Board

Click on the icon above to find out more about those members who have served the Club and District

2023-24 Board Members  

President 2023-24: Bill Bott      

Vice President: Stephen Apps 

Secretary: Deborah Rowe 

Treasurer: Sally Batten

President Elect 2024-25: Rosemary Ferguson 

Membership: Neil Davis 

Foundation: Helen Duncan     

Service Projects: Rosemary Ferguson 

Publicity: Meredith Miegel 

Youth Services: Stacey Price  

Federation Festival Director: Gary Poidevin

Federation Markets Director: Graeme Campbell


Fred Taylor Memorial Scholarship 2024

Fred Taylor

 

Each year The Rotary Club of Corowa offers a $3,000 Tertiary Scholarship for students undertaking full time tertiary studies in that current year.

Applications are invited from students who are residents of Corowa, or if currently studying away from Corowa, were residents whilst completing Year 12.

The Memorial Scholarship is funded by a legacy from the Estate of the late Fred Taylor who was a long term and distinguished member of the Rotary Club of Corowa. The scholarship has been established in accordance with Fred’s wishes to give assistance to local students in meeting costs associated with their studies.

The scholarship is open to any student undertaking full time tertiary study, irrespective of which year of the course they are undertaking. It is also open to those undertaking full time post graduate studies at University and TAFE courses.

Applications are now open for 2024 and will close 5pm on Friday April 12th, 2024.

An application form can be downloaded from the link below.

 

Download
2024 Application Form - Fred Taylor Memorial Scholarship
2024 Application Form - Fred Taylor Memo
Adobe Acrobat Document 177.3 KB

Border Mail                Tuesday February 20, 2024

How vet survived two Nazi camps

Gordon (Pud) Poidevin before he left to fight in North Africa in 1941. picture supplied

 

Layton Holley

 

BESIEGED in battle, escaping a German "death camp" twice and spending 88 days trudging through snow in occupied eastern Europe.

The late Corowa resident Gordon Poidevin survived unthinkable experiences during World War II.

Of his 60 months in the army, 4l were spent as a prisoner.

 

His son, former Corowa mayor Gary Poidevin shared his father's story at the Federation dinner in Corowa on Saturday, January27.

"Over my life, I don't know how many of his army mates said to me, 'if it wasn't for your dad, I wouldn't be here today'," Mr Poidevin told The Border Mail.

"For that I'm mighty proud of my old man,"

 

The ‘starvation death camp’

Gordon (Pud) Poidevin enlisted in Wangaratta in June1940 and joined the 2/24 Battalion 9th Division, aged 23.

After being shipped off to fight in North Africa, the battalion encountered Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Africa Corps at Tobruk, Libya, in May 1941.

For three days, Pud survived tanks and infantry gunfire while dive bombers rained death from above, as the Germans closed in.

Along with the other survivors, he was sent to a "starvation death camp" at Benghazi where they endured "horrendous conditions".

"Dad said the Benghazi camp was a hell camp, a slave camp slowly starving them to death," Mr Poidevin said.

"They were made to work from sun up till dark, seven days a week, or any other time a ship needed unloading.

"But, when the Germans weren't looking, they'd pour sand into the 44-gallon drums of petrol, trying to make things as impossible as they could."

The camp had no toilets and all POWs suffered from dysentery body lice, scabies and desert sores, which turned into ulcers, eating into the bones of some prisoners.

"The Germans treated the men like animals," Mr Poidevin said.

"They were starved, had one blanket to share between every two men, slept on the ground, and were bashed with the butts of the soldiers' rifles.

"If a prisoner didn't do what he was told, a gun was stuck in his face and threatened to fire, which did sometimes happen."

fire, which did sometimes happen."

The great escape

As the war moved on so did the Germans with their prisoners of war.

Travelling north through Italy, Pud was taken to the Gruppignano POW camp at the foot of the Northern Italian Alps, a camp run by Italians.

With the expansion of the camp, new huts were built closer to the perimeter fence, and 10 prisoners hatched a secret plan to forge a tunnel into a newly planted corn crop.

With nothing but a stolen miner's pick to dig with and a tin helmet to drag the soil away, the group tunnelled from a hut, under fences and a guard tower over three months.

Lookouts kept watch day and night.

"If a guard started to come over near the hut, a bloke 50 feet away would start a fight to divert his attention - they were on guard all the time," Mr Poidevin said.

"How'd they get rid of the dirt? Well, they would walk around, spreading a little bit here and a little bit there."

By now, 19 men - all sworn to secrecy - were in the escape team. As the cold of winter approached, the men had to find out how far the tunnel had proceeded.

Pud was chosen to break through the surface and after poking a stick through the soil, it was found that the tunnel had run off course, about 20 metres short of a guard tower and less than five metres from a sentry box - 60 metres short of the corn crop.

Still, the men made a break for it that night.

All 19 escaped; however, the Italians sent a division of 12,000 soldiers after them, and because of the "torrid rain and swollen rivers", all were recaptured over the next five days.

"The satisfaction for the 19 men was that they had escaped from a camp declared unescapable by the camp commandant" Mr Poidevin said.

"Then the good news came that the Allies had landed in Italy and all thought that it would not be long before they were free again. But not so."

 

Enduring 88 days in the snow

The Germans returned and shifted Pud to a transit camp in Austria.

Inspired by his previous success, Pud wasted no time and planned another tunnel, but this was discovered by the Germans after a tip-off by a British officer.

"Dad decided to go along with camp rules at this stage," Mr Poidevin said.

"They befriended the German guards with goods received by the Red Cross.

"So much so, that his final escape came when they were out getting wood."

Six men asked a guard if they could go to the toilet in the forest.

When they had not returned, the guard told Pud and another prisoner to find them.

They were free.

The eight men escaped into then-Yugoslavia where they joined a group of partisans, fighting the Germans along the snowy countryside.

"One of the men kept a diary where he'd record a few words each day," Mr Poidevin said.

"'No movement today. Germans all around. Lucky tonight.

"Tubby and Mick stole some eggs and took German camp in front.

"Need to go high and around. Need more food. Starving."'

After 84 days on the run the group made their way down the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia, eventually rejoining the allied troops in ItaIy.

From here, Pud was shipped back to Australia and was discharged in Ballarat on |uIy30,1945.

 

'He was a man of forgiveness.'

In Ballarat, Pud met his wife Lorna and decided to move back to Corowa to start a family.

Mr Poidevin recalled that, growing up, his father never held a grudge against his former captives.

"Dad would befriend the new migrants that came to town and help them out" he said.

"I think it was because of the time he spent with the partisans and the people who helped him out over there.'

"^He didn’t want anybody to do what people did to him, but he forgave.

"He was a man of forgiveness"' Mr Poidevin said.

Pud received an Order of Australia Medal in 1994 for service to his community’.

He died on June 1, 2005, aged 88.