40 years’ service to any organisation is impressive.  It’s half a lifetime for many people, more for some and only slightly less for Ron.  Few people have worked as tirelessly for the Royal South Street Society as much as Ron Harrington his beloved wife Dawn, who has been his constant back bone and supporter.

Ron’s first association with RSSS was through his mum and his sister who competed in the calisthenics competition.

In 1984 Warwick Kittson (who was President at the time) invited Ron to join the Board.  Ron said it “was an honour and a privilege to be asked to be part of something that had been so vital in Ballarat for so long”.  Ron clearly made his mark quickly, becoming Vice President in 1987, President in 1991, and again in 2000 and 2013.

Once Ron started, he couldn’t stop.  He initially joined the Plays & Speech sub-committee, eventually chairing this from 1986-1988.  He assisted with the organ sections in his early years, then chaired that sub-committee in 1987 and ‘88.  He helped Doug & Daphne McMillan backstage with calisthenics, then took over that section in the late 1990s and remained as Chair of Calisthenics for 17 years.  The theme here … Ron starts by offering to help out, then takes over your job!

Many of us in the calisthenics community recall Ron on stage in his dinner suit for our Graceful Girl final at Her Majesty’s Theatre.  Ron says the first time he compered this prestigious competition he was shaking so much he could hardly keep his paper still enough to read it.

For 40 years, Ron has worked tirelessly sourcing sponsors and recruiting board members.  He has met with MPs to apply for funding, and still liaises with Creative Victoria who provide financial assistance for all eisteddfods.  In 1993 he was a founding member and first Chairman of the Association of Eisteddfod Societies of Australia, then Vice President, then Treasurer, and he and Dawn continue to travel the country to attend these meetings on a regular basis.

Ron was awarded Life Membership of RSS in 2004 and received a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2008 for services to the community.

While Ron has been doing all this, Dawn has been by his side, doing just as much.  She has chaired sessions at our competitions, made presentations on stage, played music, helped with suppers, and provided floral arrangements from her own garden for the Herald Sun Aria.   I know from experience that being the spouse of a person filling roles like Ron has, creates just as much work for you, though much of it is done in the background, unseen by others.

Dawn received her well-deserved Life Membership in 2018.

As an aside, for those who don’t follow calisthenics, a few years ago we introduced a trophy to be awarded to the club with the most aggregate points, and in honour of these two wonderful people, we named this the Ron & Dawn Harrington Trophy.

Congratulations and thank you Ron and Dawn, on your 40 years of dedicated service.


1. Dawn receiving flowers at the 2023 RSSS AGM

2. Dawn presenting the frame to 2017 Graceful Winner Julia Doig

3. Ron presenting the Renee Knight Memorial Trophy to Julia Doig (2017)

4. Tony Cole, Ron and Dawn Harrington at the 2023 RSSS AGM



Ron Harrington

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