A ROTARIAN celebrating 55 years of service received a surprise when was presented with a message from the organisation’s worldwide president.

Griff Jones, 88, was left “shell-shocked” when given the letter from Barry Rassin, of the Rotary Club of East Nassau, Bahamas, who is the current president of Rotary International.

The letter congratulated the Prestatyn Rotarian on his years of devoted service and his dedication to clubs and community in the area.

The former rotary president was also presented with a commemorative certificate from Debbie Hodge, rotary president in Great Britain and Ireland.

Mr Jones, of Prestatyn, celebrated his long service surrounded by fellow members.

The former newsagent and clock and watch repair business owner said: “It's just brilliant to be celebrating 55 years as a Rotarian.

"From the first day I joined in 1963, being in the rotary has helped me achieve so many things.

"I've been lucky in life and in work and wanted to give something back. There have been so many highlights, for example, helping Prestatyn Rotary set up the Abbeyfield Society homes in 1979 and the Rhuddlan Borough Talking Newspaper in 1983, and of the course the Christmas float.

"The district projects when we supported NHS initiatives in North Wales, and my time as district governor when, on my return from the General Council in Nashville, I was able to introduce the worldwide Polio eradication programme.

"It meant so much to receive the award and the letter. I feel it’s a great honour for me and for our club as it’s not something that has happened before."

Mr Jones, who has three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, was born in Porthmadog. When he 15, he walked into the branch of WHSmith and asked for a job. A paper round soon turned into a full-time job and he enjoyed a long and successful career with the company at Blaenau Ffestiniog, Abersoch, Rhyl, Chester, Wolverhampton, Newquay and finally Newton Abbot in Devon, where Griff managed 24 staff.

During his time in WHSmith in Rhyl, he met and married his wife Buddug, who died some years ago. They had two children, Kevin and Bronwen.

Aside from family, Mr Jones said his two great joys in his life are the rotary and choral music.

In 1963, he was invited to join the Rotary Club of Newton Abbott, when he also joined Torbay male voice choir.

In 1970, he bought a newsagents business in Prestatyn - this was part of the Palladium cinema building [the current site of Iceland frozen foods].

He then moved to Watters Westbrook, a tobacconists and newsagent. When that was purchased by Boots Chemist in 1990, Griff bought Balma Time, a clock and watch repair business in the town's High Street.

His move to Prestatyn also included a transfer to Prestatyn Rotary Club and he joined the Trelawnyd Male Voice Choir.

In 1978, he became president of Prestatyn Rotary Club and later joined the Rotary District team as chair of the community service committee.

He was elected as district governor in 1986, District 1180 including all the Rotary Clubs in North Wales, Wirral and Merseyside.

Mr Jones added: "I would absolutely encourage others to join the rotary.

"You’ll get to meet like-minded people from all walks of life and all corners of the world, enjoy wonderful fellowship, and have the opportunity to really make a difference.

"I would like to thank my rotary colleagues for their friendship and support over the years."