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Big thank you to volunteers

Big thank you to our volunteersOne group and four individuals were recognised last week [May 31], at a Civic Honours Awards ceremony held in the Hastings District Council Chambers.

The awards are presented annually to recognise volunteers in Hastings who have devoted their time and energy to making a difference in our communities.

The official ceremony started with a haka pōwhiri with the resonating call of the pūtatara [conch shell] signalling the recipients to make their way into Council chambers  where their family and friends waited.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule commended the award recipients for their selfless efforts. “The work of volunteers make a clear and demonstrable difference in our district. As we thank them for their contributions, we also thank those people who have nominated them for these awards. Typically, our hardest working volunteers are also very humble. It is not easy to get them to put their hands up for recognition.

“The four people and a group we are celebrating tonight work in a range of fields, from health and education, to youth and culture. They are worth their weight in gold. They have given their time and talents without compensation, and I, on behalf of all our residents, acknowledge their contributions to our community.”

A group award was presented to the DIY Coffin Club for their compassion and family support.  This charitable organisation met once a week to build coffins for themselves and others. Over the past three years they had made tiny coffins for the Ata Rangi Maternity Unit which offers them to grieving parents who have lost a new-born baby.

Dr David Barry was presented with an award for his leadership in children’s respiratory health and his ongoing commitment to improving the general well-being of children and families in Hawke’s Bay.  Following his retirement as a paediatrician, he continues to support the community through charitable endeavours such as being a trustee and current chairman of the Scott Fund, serving on the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, and as a trustee of the Hawke’s Bay Knowledge Bank. 

Colleen Marshall received an award for her faithful and invaluable voluntary service to the Heretaunga Seniors’ Community Centre over the past 13 years, helping in whatever capacity needed as well as fulfilling the formal committee roles of secretary and treasurer.  Colleen is also a volunteer with the Hastings Red Cross, delivering Meals on Wheels and assisting with that organisation’s annual street appeal.

Pam O’Keefe was presented with an award for her work with families.  She is the administrator at Te Aranga Marae, a member of the Kai Collective Food Bank and a vital component of the Flaxmere Boxing Academy.  Considered by many Flaxmere residents as the ‘Mother of Flaxmere’, Pam’s incredibly caring and empathetic nature has enabled her, with her husband Henare, to foster more than 200 children over 30 years and help reintegrate prison inmates back into the community. 

Susan Melville was given an award for her devotion to developing and enriching the lives of children through music.  In her roles as the conductor of the Hawke’s Bay Youth Orchestra, volunteer for the bi-annual Festival of Youth Orchestras, faculty member of the International Foundation for Arts and Culture (IFAC) Handa New Zealand Singing School, and loyal supporter of the Havelock North High School choirs, she has spreaad her love of classical music to hundreds of young people.

Following the formal presentations to the volunteers by the mayor and chief executive Ross McLeod, guests were treated to a musical performance by three of Susan Merville’s students: Nesta Lade and Miru Shimaoka on violin and Christopher Eldridge on piano.

The awards evening included a keynote address by Anna Pierard, creative director of Festival Opera and the creator of Project Prima Volta,  a mentoring programme for young people.  She emphasised that the success of the opera productions could be largely attributed to the hard work and dedication of volunteers.

4 October 2017

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