LEGENDS OF THE NEPEAN: Bob Aitken AM JP

In addition to running Bob Aitken Media, his own media company, Bob Aitken AM JP is currently the Chairman of Rotary District 9685 Polio Committee, the Rotary International (RI) ‘END POLIO NOW’ Coordinator for Zone 8 and Chairman of the RI Zone 8 History and Archives Committee and, as such, he had charge of planning, researching and writing the ‘Centenary of Rotary in Australia: 1927-2021.

Among an extraordinarily long list of achievements and awards, Bob is a multiple Paul Harris Fellow, a recipient of RI’s ‘Service Above Self’ award and the Australian Rotary Health Medal, a member of the Rotary Club of the Lower Blue Mountains, former District Governor (DG) District 9690 / 9685, Project Manager NSW Graffiti Removal Day and Chairman of Graffiti Removal Australia. He is a Life Member of the NSW Parents and Teachers Association as a result of 10 years of leadership at Parkes and Blaxland High Schools.

A lifetime of work in media (journalism and media management), including 27 years as Managing Editor of ‘Rotary Down Under’, ensured Bob was the perfect candidate as Executive Director of Rotary Down Under Inc, which specialised in public relations and corporate development.

Bob Aitken & Gladys Berejiklian

Bob was a world traveller for Rotary and it was no surprise his love and passion for the organisation would ensure his ongoing involvement after retirement.

Born in Parkes in 1945, Bob lived with his family on a wheat and sheep farm (Wattlegrove), 10 miles west of Parkes.

His education commenced at a one-teacher school in the village of Nelungaloo and apart from the school, the town comprised a Post Office, wheat silo, stock yards and a couple of homes.

The family moved into Parkes and Bob continued his education at Parkes PS and Parkes HS, excelling in sport rather than academics and in doing so, setting his life on its amazing journey through sports.

In 1963, Bob accepted a cadet-ship in journalism with the Parkes Champion Post. He became editor in 1969 and Managing Editor in 1972, serving in the latter role until taking on the role of Managing Editor of Rotary Down Under magazine in 1984.

The Aitken family moved to Lapstone when Bob accepted the role as Editor of Rotary Down Under, which included Australia,
New Zealand and the surrounding Pacific Islands.

The magazine flourished under Bob’s guidance, moving from Black & White to a colour edition, then to an online digital production. Bob also organised a fund-raising appeal, which not only purchased Rotary Down Under House in Parramatta but also secured the financial future of the magazine.

Bob Aitken & Zulu Chief 1987Bob Aitken, daughter Corrina, grandchildren Max, Annie Rose and Jordan

Bob completed two terms as Chairman of the Rotary World Magazine Press Advisory Group (31 magazines in 24 languages) and was advisor to the RI Board of Directors in that time. He had also previously served as Chairman of the RI Communications Committee (2 terms) and General Coordinator of the RI Public Image Resource Group (4 terms), along with many other RI special committee groups. He was vice chair of the Host Organisation Committee for the RI Convention in Sydney in 2014.

Sport was an essential component in Bob’s life and he not only played many different sports but also served on committees and organisations, keen to advance both the respective sport and the athletes who competed in them.

He served as President of the Parkes Junior and Senior Hockey Associations, President of Parkes Basketball Association, President of Magpies Hockey Club, Secretary of the Parkes Cricket Association, Secretary of the Central West Cricket Council, played as a first grade representative for Parkes Cricket Association for 25 years and organised and led three international cricket tours to New Zealand, Fiji and Great Britain. He represented NSW Country against the West Indies at Dubbo in 1975.

Bob has been NSW Hockey Association Coach of the Year on two occasions and coached NSW junior men’s and women’s teams for six years, winning two national titles. He is a Life Member of NSW Hockey Association and served as vice chairman of the State body for six years.

Prime Minister John Howard & Bob AitkenBob Aitken & Allan JonesIndian cricketing legend Sunil Gavaskar and Bob Aitken

Bob was the Media Manager for Hockey at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games and in 2007, was named a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia Queen’s Birthday Honours List – for services to sport and the community through Rotary.

The Federation of International Hockey selected Bob for two special coaching assignments to grow the game in Fiji, in 1989 and 1990.

Bob and wife Ann were married in 1967 and have two children, David and Corrina, and three grandchildren.

Ann was also an outstanding sportswoman, excelling in hockey, softball and netball.

The sporting genes from Bob and Ann have passed down to the children and grandchildren, with daughter Corrina having represented Australia as a junior (U21’s), a long-term member of the NSW Women’s team and is now one of Penrith’s leading hockey coaches.

Granddaughter Annie Rose has been selected in the NSW U/21 Blues Women’s Hockey team, grandson Max is one of Penrith’s leading junior hockey umpires and grandson Jordan has just been selected as fullback for the Australian Army Rugby Union team.


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