An Apex club is a community service club, neither sectarian nor party political, that provides young civic-minded people with the opportunity to volunteer within the community and develop personally through club run schemes such as public speaking competitions. Club members, initially male, are volunteers aged between 18 and 45. Females were allowed to join in the early 1990s, and by 2006 the gender-specific clubs (and boards) accepted members of both genders to their clubs.
The Apex’s familiar triangular emblem has been around Australian suburbs and country towns for decades. Locally you can find the visible Geelong sculpture in Johnstone Park at the end of Malop Street.
The story of Apex began in March 1931 when three young architects, looking to contribute to their local community of Geelong, decided to create Apex. They had attempted to join the Rotary Club of Geelong, but there was a rule restricting just one representative of a profession to each club, so the three architects – Ewan Laird, Langham Proud and John Buchan went on to form The Young Businessmen’s Club of Geelong. The three founders were motivated by a simple creed: citizenship, fellowship and service.
After the club expanded into Camperdown and Ballarat, the Association of Apex Clubs was formed, and the three clubs branded as “Apex”. By the end of the year, four clubs had been established. Over the decades, more than 1,000 local groups and over 200,000 young people have learnt key skills while contributing to their community.
Locally Apex was first mooted at a meeting held in Torquay during 1974 by the sponsor club Belmont. The President of the Belmont club, Greg Allen spoke as well as Gerald Edwards and Jeff Taylor, Chairman of the Extension Committee. At the close of the meeting, prospective Torquay members indicated an interest in forming a club. At a follow up meeting three weeks later, on 11 November 1974, the Torquay group confirmed their interest. This meeting was recorded as the first meeting of the Apex Club of Torquay (unchartered).
The Foundation Meeting, to elect office bearers, was held on 25 November with David Gordon (President), Bill Mitchell (Secretary), Bob McLeod (Treasurer) and Peter Stewart, Graeme McCartney, David McLeod, and Ron Worland making up the rest of the committee. Other members present at the meeting included Ken Anderson, Paul Baensch, John Baker, David Evans, Max Feldman, Paul French, Garry Hill, Graham Lee, Dick Saleh, Peter Scott, Mick Thomas and Peter Wilson.
The new year started with the inaugural meeting of the club on 28 February 1975. Guests included co-founder of Apex, Ewan Laird and Zone President, Graham Brian who were on hand to congratulate David Gordon as he was installed as President of the newly formed club, along with the other committee members mentioned earlier. There were 27 chartered members after this meeting. The club quickly set about raising money for the Darwin Cyclone Appeal and the Torquay Fire Brigade through activities of car washing, loam spreading and Bounce Ball. Social events to support the fundraising, including Rock and Roll nights, theatre nights and bbqs, brought the funds rolling in. There was also the unique district sporting challenge against Belmont, where Torquay beat them in a raft race by 15 minutes! There were also guest speakers and hosting of the final district debating competition. All in all, this small group of volunteers raised $3,716 (about $18,000 today) in just eight months.
The club contributed many community hours before folding 14 years later in 1989. Guest speakers enlightened members. Projects included fundraising through house wrecking, roadside cleanups, Christmas trees, hay carting, tree planting, raffles, car washing, bush fire help, and financial beneficiaries included the local fire brigade, RSL, Red Cross, school and kindergarten. Two Apex parks were created in 1978 and another in 1983. By the late 1980s service centered around junior surfing, junior discos, lawnmowing, wood cutting and starting up Little Athletics in Torquay.
Consistently through the years, the club was successful in the debating competitions, with Ron Worland Torquay’s most successful debater. Through fundraising the club supported the community through physical and financial help.