BILL Ashman has lived his life abiding by the Rotary Club motto of "service above self."
He was awarded the prestigious Paul Harris Double Sapphire Recognition on Thursday for a lifetime of dedication to the Rotary Club of Bendigo South.
Wife Verna was made a Paul Harris Fellow at the dinner, which took place at The Foundry Hotel Complex.
In his acceptance speech, Mr Ashman spoke of what it meant to be Rotarian.
"You give up a seat on a tram, you give someone a smile, you help someone cross the road," he said.
After the ceremony, Mr Ashman told the Bendigo Advertiser he was thrilled to receive the award.
"I was absolutely astounded," he said.
"It's about fellowship and service.
"You know you're helping other people.
"There will always be a need for Rotary."
Mrs Ashman said she was honoured to be made a Paul Harris Fellow and had fond memories of her Rotary experiences, including 30 years service as a Meals on Wheels volunteer.
"I thought it was a great thing to do," Mrs Ashman said.
"You meet people all the time."
She said her award was a great surprise.
"I'm absolutely amazed with it," she said.
Club president Rod Spitty said Mr and Mrs Ashman were outstanding Rotary members.
He said Mr Ashman had performed a variety of roles throughout his time with the club, including club president, treasurer and 46 years as the club auditor.
"He's had decades of dedication and commitment at all levels of Rotary and made the difficult look easy," he said.
"In recent years he's been a good reference ear - an outstanding club statesman.
"The art of balancing priorities of work, family and community service doesn't come easily but he's been able to master it."
He said Mrs Ashman had flawlessly balanced her Rotary duties with family commitments.