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RNZFB announces 2003 Chairman’s Award recipient

RNZFB announces recipient of its 2003 Chairman’s Award

This evening, Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) chairman Don McKenzie announced the recipient of the 2003 RNZFB Chairman’s Award.

Retired RNZFB social worker Mervyn Reay - blind since age 13 - has been presented with the Chairman’s Award for his outstanding service to blind and vision-impaired people.

Mr Reay, or Merv, as everyone knows him, became a member of the RNZFB in 1932 after losing his sight to glaucoma, and has been a strong supporter of blind and vision-impaired people ever since.

He was educated and lived at the Blind Institute (as it was known then) for several years and trained to be a school teacher, but was denied a teaching certificate because of his blindness.

Never one to let obstacles stand in his way, he instead taught Braille and cane work at the Blind Institute, and then worked as a RNZFB social worker from 1951 until 1986.

Merv's years as a social worker for the Foundation have left a legacy amongst those with whom he worked and the members he supported. Many members describe him as "the person who made a difference in their lives".

These acknowledgements continue to be made today long after his retirement, not only by the members themselves but also by their families.

This is summed up in the words of one young man who said, "For a blind person to teach me these skills meant so much more than learning them from a sighted person".

In presenting the Chairman’s Award Don McKenzie said, “As the Foundation begins a new life, we salute the traditional values of service personified in Merv Reay.

“Here is a man whose life has been spent in the service of others. He has lived a balanced lifestyle and certainly stands out as an example to all who know him.

“He is a remarkable person, with a capacity for living that is the envy of many sighted people. It gives me great pleasure to bestow the Chairman’s Award on Merv Reay.”

Even in retirement, Merv continues to be a positive role model and an inspirational mentor to other blind and vision-impaired people, teaching the tricks of living with blindness to new and younger members of the RNZFB in Hamilton.

Merv is currently a member of the RNZFB’s Hamilton Community Committee, is an enthusiastic ham radio operator, and has for many years been an active member of Rotary International.

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