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Blind Achievers' Amaze Judges

20 November 2001
The achievements of three blind and sight-impaired New Zealanders were recognised tonight in a ceremony hosted by the Governor General at Government House, Wellington.

The winners of the Blind Achievers' Awards 2001 came from all over New Zealand to accept an award in one of three categories. They were:

The Arts
Winner: Pauline MacNab, Wanganui
Judge: Mr Tony Gardner, Saatchi and Saatchi

Sport
Winner: Helen Davies, Hamilton
Judge: Mr Graham Williams, ex All Black 1967-68

People's Choice
Winner: Allan Jones, Wellington
Judge: Mrs Jenny Brash, Mayor Porirua City

Pauline MacNab, winner of The Arts award, has always been very crafty and expressed an interest in the arts - but it wasn't until this year that she decided to do something about it.

"I finally built up enough courage to enrol in a course in ceramics at Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic. But when I went down there I found out they didn't run that course anymore!

"By this stage I was determined to take a course so I enrolled in the Foundation Visual Art course that does a little bit of everything - now I'm enrolled in the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree!"

Pauline has very limited vision however this hasn't stopped her determination to learn as much as she can about art - both practical and theoretical.

"At the moment sculpture is my favourite form of art. But I also really enjoy the other side and learning about the history of art and artists."

Tony Gardner from Saatchi and Saatchi and judge of The Arts section said:

"While the quality of entries in the art category were outstanding, with an impressive range of skills and achievements on show, Pauline MacNab's entry is nothing short of inspirational.

"Pauline's artistic achievement is a great example of venturing into the unknown, and succeeding beyond expectations.

"What's more, Pauline is achieving this in a sighted person's environment.

"Pauline's desire to inspire others is already being realised."

Graham Williams, All Black in 1967-68 and judge of the sports section, said this was the hardest thing that he has ever had to do.

"It was an extremely hard choice because every entrant in the sports section was a first - but I had to go where my heart was," says Mr Williams.

"Helen Davies has made a monumental effort to achieve her goals.

"She has had to climb huge mountains in the last 12 months.

"Helen and all entrants have shown great inspiration to every sportsperson."

Helen Davies, winner of the Sports section, has had to overcome a lot to achieve her goal - to walk in the 5km category of the Hamilton Millennium Marathon.

This may sound simple to most people - but to Helen this was a huge achievement.

Seven years ago Helen was in a serious car accident that left her sight-impaired, largely wheelchair bound but has limited use of one hand and her legs.

After being pushed around the 2000 event Helen was determined to walk the 5km course - and she did in 3 hours and 15 minutes!

Allan Jones has nominated a number of people for the Achievers' Awards in previous years, but this year he decided to put his own name forward – and it paid off. Allan is the winner of the People's Choice award.

The People's Choice, a new category for the Blind Achievers' Award, is awarded to someone who has made or is making a significant contribution to the community.

Mayor of Porirua City and judge of the People's Choice section, Jenny Brash, said choosing a winner in the People's Choice category was extremely difficult.

"Each entrant had amazingly different but equally impressive life stories and personal achievements and who had all contributed so much to their communities," says Mrs Brash.

"After a lot of consideration I judged Allan Jones as the winner of this year's People's Choice award.

"Allan stood out as someone who all his life has never let his blindness stand in the way of achieving his own personal and career goals. He has also been a tireless advocate for people with disabilities for at least 2 decades.

"Through his social work career; his advocacy and lobbying usually at central government level; his teaching of students about disabilities; and his awareness raising of disability issues on radio and TV he would have reached out to thousands of people and changed their attitudes and perceptions towards people living with disability such as blindness.

"His latest challenge - being an effective President of his local Lions Club - is no mean achievement!

"I believe Allan is a real inspiration for people with, or facing any type of visual impairment."

Each Blind Achievers' Award winner received an original cast glass sculpture by Auckland-based international artist Jo Nuttall and $750.00.

The awards will be presented at Government House as part of the 2001 Blind Achievers' Dinner and Charity Auction.

Money raised from the charity auction will help the Foundation for the Blind provide essential services for blind and sight-impaired New Zealanders to challenge their sight conditions and achieve their goals.

-ends-

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