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Finalists for NZer of the Year in UK announced

December 31, 2004

Finalists for NZer of the Year in UK announced

Finalists for the prestigious 2005 New Zealander of the Year in UK Award were announced in London today.

They are Hilary Alexander, fashion editor of The Daily Telegraph, Tim Bevan, screenwriter, co-founder and co-chairman of Working Title Films and Peter Leslie, chairman of the New Zealand Society, Scotland. They are all recognised for their contribution to lifting New Zealand’s profile in the UK.

The award was established by the New Zealand Society in 1997 and will be presented to the winner at the annual New Zealand Society’s Waitangi Day Dinner at The Dorchester in London on February 4.

New Zealand Society president Judith Watson said there was a difficult decision whittling down the nominations given that all nominees had significantly enhanced New Zealand’s profile through their varied and impressive achievements.

``Other nominees included restaurateurs Tom and Sue Glynn, UCL President and Provost Malcolm Grant, executive vice chairman of the Commonwealth Human Ecology Council Zena Daysh and founding sponsor of the Award, Mike Corless from Downunder Insurance.’’

Previous winners have included Dame Judith Mayhew Jonas, celebrity chef Peter Gordon, Commonwealth secretary general Don McKinnon and international rowing coach Harry Mahon OBE.

A lifetime achievement award will also be presented to New Zealander Dame Gillian Weir, DBE the internationally renowned concert organist at the dinner.

As part of the annual Air NZ sponsored celebrations, a Waitangi Day Service will be held at St Lawrence Jewry, Next-Guildhall, in the City of London on February 3, followed by a reception at The Girdlers Hall.

Media advisory – profile notes: New Zealander of the Year Nominees

Hilary Alexander Fashion director of the Daily Telegraph and a contributor to Vogue magazine, Napier-born Hilary has worked at the Daily Telegraph since 1985 and previously as fashion editor at the Hong Kong Trade Development Council. She was UK Fashion Journalist of the Year in 2003. She regularly judges international fashion competitions and appears frequently on TV.

Through her achievements, she has successfully lifted the profile of New Zealand and its fashion designers. Tim Bevan Co-founder and co-chairman of Britain's flagship production company, Working Title Films, Tim grew up in Queenstown and served his screen apprenticeship at the National Film Unit. His production company has overseen such hits as Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994), Bean (1997), Notting Hill (1999), Billy Elliot (2000) and Bridget Jones's Diary (2001 & 2004). Tim’s company supports the NZ Writers Foundation, NZ Writers Guild and NZ Film Commission by supporting New Zealanders on scholarships to the UK for screenwriting.

Peter Leslie Canterbury and Marlborough raised, Peter is a founding member of The New Zealand Society, Scotland. As chairman for the past 6 years, he has organised the Arbroath Anzac Day ceremony in association with the local British Legion. His team also organised the 150th Anniversary of Scots settling in Otago. Peter was the driving force behind the Memorial Plaque at the Scottish Museum of Flight commemorating New Zealand airman killed in Scotland during WW II.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Dame Gillian Weir, DBE Internationally acclaimed concert organist, scholar and teacher, Dame Gillian won a scholarship to study at the Royal College of Music in 1961. Gillian was the first women president of the Royal College of Organists and is a fellow of the Royal College of Music. She is one of the world’s foremost musicians and demonstrates a career of international accolades and life-time achievements. Guest Speaker: Brian Perkins New Zealander, Brian Perkins, and his dulcet voice, are well-known to thousands of BBC Radio 4 listeners who tune into the Today programme’s news regularly.

Born in New Zealand, Brian began his life in broadcasting in the early 60s before travelling to the England and securing work on the BBC’s three radio networks -Light, Home and Third. In 1965, he read his first bulletins for ‘The Home Service’ along with other illustrious names such as Alvar Lidell, Robin Holmes, Douglas Smith, Colin Doran and Bryan Martin.

During this time, he worked hard to master the intricacies of the double bass and studied part-time at the Guildhall School of Music and with J Edward Merret, the principal ‘bass in The Philharmonia Orchestra. In 1969, following a successful audition, Brian, his wife and family (two girls and a boy) returned to NZ where Brian played in The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for 5 years before returning to England where he joined the team at Radio 4.

Brian has been in demand over the years for input ("voice of reason" roles) into comedy shows on radio mostly and also TV. Most memorably, for him at least, was a Comic Relief item which ended in him being "custard pied" by Lenny Henry and Gryff Rhys Jones.

Now working freelance, he derives pleasure from gardening and dreams of completing the restoration of his Jaguar. He still plays the 'bass in various groups and orchestras but nothing too high flying. His other loves are his two grandsons and cats.


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