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Life Membership for QSM recipient

Life Membership for QSM recipient

Special Olympics New Zealand awarded long-standing volunteer Lois Aitkenhead with a Life Membership at its Annual General Meeting today in Nelson.

Special Olympics New Zealand runs year-round sports training and competition for people with intellectual disabilities.

Nelson resident Lois Aitkenhead has been an active volunteer within Special Olympics New Zealand since the 1990s and currently heads the organisation’s Nelson Club.

Lois had a rather unusual introduction to Special Olympics. In 1998 the special needs teacher was asked by the incumbent chairperson of Special Olympics Nelson to be the Christmas Fairy at the Club’s prizegiving and Christmas function. She was so good at the role that she was asked to repeat the favour for four years running, becoming more involved in the Club as time went on.

Lois went on to lead the Nelson Club and became a member of the Special Olympics Upper South Island Regional Council, and Special Olympics New Zealand’s Board of Trustees.

“We are delighted to confer Life Membership on Lois. She has been such an inspirational and motivational force within the Nelson Club, at governance level and in our wider organisation,” says Kathy Gibson, Chief Executive Officer of Special Olympics New Zealand.

“Under her leadership Special Olympics Nelson has grown its membership to more than 180 athletes and 40 school students. Lois’ policy has always been to get younger athletes on board. When she started as Christmas Fairy the youngest athlete was aged in their 30s. Alongside our South Island team, Lois has worked extensively with schools around Nelson to get them on board and transition students from the Special Olympics New Zealand’s Schools Programme into the Club sports programme. She has also been instrumental in growing Special Olympics New Zealand’s National Athlete Leadership Programme and is on the Global Messengers’ selection panel.”

Lois was awarded Nelson’s Unsung Hero Award in 2010 for her volunteering, and in 2011 received the Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community.

Lois joins 14 fellow Special Olympics New Zealand volunteers who were conferred with Life Membership Awards at last year’s Special Olympics New Zealand National Summer Games for the meritorious service they have provided to the organisation over many years.


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