Waihora Rugby Club president Chris Thornley has called time on his tenure after 27 years.
His efforts were recognised at a club function at Tai Tapu on Friday night.
The 51-year-old farrier and horse trainer said with new clubrooms and the senior team winning the Country Combined and Ellesmere double, the time was right to step down.
“It’s been an amazing time and I’ve met so many people through this role and rugby in general, that it’s really been a great ride,” he said.
Mr Thornley, who was named volunteer of the year at the Canterbury and Crusaders Rugby Awards in 2014, said it was time for some fresh ideas.
“The club has grown so much over the years and with the new facilities and the playing numbers strong, the time was right.”
Mr Thornley said he first came to the club as a player at just five-years-old.
He said he was thrilled to see the club producing players like Mark Maitland and Harry Kirk who were pushing to be part of the Canterbury set-up.
“When you see players like that starting to achieve their goals it’s a great feeling.”
When Mr Thornley took on the role in 1991, he said the job “was full of long nights on the phone.”
“Now with social media, 95 per cent of the work can be done over email,” he said.
Mr Thornley said he was always left enthused by a new wave of players and families each season and he credited this and the support of his family for keeping him in the role for so long.
He said he would continue to be actively involved in the club and would mentor the new committee during the transition.
Mr Thornley, who is the current vice president and chairman of the Ellesmere Rugby Sub Union, said he was looking forward to working more “at that level” and working with clubs
in the area with an impartial
“Otherwise, it’s about spending more time with my family and trying to train a winner or two,” he said.
Waihora vice president Mike Dixon will step into the role ahead of the annual meeting to be held in November.