KIAMA Apex Club president Michael Kelton has been given a Senior Service Apexian Award, the organisation's third highest honour.
The award is bitter-sweet for 44-year-old Mr Kelton, as his Apex tenure will finish when he reaches the group's compulsory retirement age of 45.
He admitted his award took him completely by surprise.
"I have been involved with Kiama Apex Club for nearly 23 years, after being recruited by well-known former real estate agent John Dawson," he said.
"I was working in my parents' ice creamery one day. John called in and said I should come along to Apex and see what I thought. So I did, and after three dinner meetings I was hooked.
"The club was involved in the early stages of 'The Shack' at Shoalhaven Heads and I liked the idea of such great community projects, never thinking that 23 years later, I would still be involved."
However, he is worried about the future of Apex clubs in NSW, with the state now down to just 23 and Kiama the only one remaining in the Illawarra, following the demise of Berry and Corrimal during the past two years.
"It's sad to think that while Lions and Rotary clubs seem to be going well, service clubs like Apex, which represent younger people, are falling by the wayside," he said.
"When I joined Kiama, we had 18 members and unfortunately, we are now down to just six and we desperately need some new blood."
Apex is very much a family affair for the Keltons, with Mr Kelton's wife, Julie, the immediate past president and current treasurer of the club.
For more details on the club, call 0405 269 261.