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West Otago Health comes up as district’s top volunteers

EMBARGOED, 8PM, TUESDAY, SEPT 22

West Otago Health comes up as district’s top volunteers

The volunteers behind West Otago Health’s scooped the Supreme Award of the 2015 Trustpower Clutha Community Awards tonight at the Rosebank Lodge in Balclutha.

The awards were announced and presented earlier this evening (Tuesday, September 22) in front of more than 140 volunteers and their supporters.

Two West Otago Health representatives received, on behalf of the dozens of other volunteers involved, a framed certificate, a trophy and $1,500 in prize money. These folks also will have the opportunity to represent the district at the 2015 Trustpower National Community Awards, being held in Dunedin next March.

In total, Trustpower gave away over $5,000 to various community groups through the awards tonight, and have doled out more than $78,000 in the awards programme across Clutha since the company began working in the region 16 years ago.

Trustpower Community Relations Representative Arielle Monk says it was heartening to see such a grass roots organisation take out the top award, which was voted on unanimous decision by the judging panel earlier this month.

“The West Otago Health Trust is very much driven by the people that use the services, so it’s awesome to see the volunteers who put in the hard yards being rewarded.

“The new health centre and home for the elderly are assets for Tapanui and the surrounding population, and without access to health care, we know that many New Zealand rural communities would not survive.”

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The West Otago Health Trust’s recent developments cost more than three million dollars.

Four of the five secondary schools from Clutha also put up nominees of high calibre to participate in the Trustpower Youth Community Spirit Award process. Year 13 students Hayley Witt from South Otago High, Esther McLay from Catlins Area School, Terri Thomas from Tokomairiro High and Dion Falconer from Blue Mountain College were all in attendance at tonight’s ceremony.

“At the judging session, my fellow judges and I agonised over this award. If it were up to us, all of these students would have won – the calibre, community involvement and spirit of the four of them is second to none in any other district I have worked in,” Monk said.

Despite that sentiment, only one student can win the award, and it was Dion Falconer who most impressed judges on the day, and took home the award, a cheque for $500 and presented local Lions’ Club with a donation of $250.

The Clutha District Council individual awards for volunteering were also presented in conjunction with the Trustpower Community Awards tonight. Lawrence resident Barbara Wilson was recognised for her unfailing and annual commitment to the RSA and ANZAC day celebrations, fellow local Jean Goodlet was nominated for her desire to keep Lawrence on the map, Balclutha’s Doug Henderson was dubbed Kaka Point’s most dedicated surf life saver and Judy Nicol, also from Balclutha, was celebrated for a decade of work with the Special Olympics.

The competition for this year’s Awards was not as strong as previous years, although more than 25 groups entered for the judging process. Monk says the number of social wellbeing and health volunteer groups was encouraging, and she is hoping to increase the number of entries for next year’s awards.

“Now that I’ve got to know the district a bit, and spent time out and about, I’ll know where to find the volunteers humbly hiding away – there are so many people going unrecognised for keeping the fabric of these communities together.”
>>>ENDS<<<

Category Winners:

Heritage and Environment
Runner Up: West Otago Remembers
Winner: Tuapeka Lawrence Community Group

Health and Well Being
Runner-Up: Operation Sugar
Winner: West Otago Health Trust

Arts and Culture
Runner-up: West Otago Art and Craft Exhibition
Winner: Knit and Yarn

Sport and Leisure
Runner Up: Stepsisters Marching Group
Winner: Kaitangata Black Gold BMX

Education and Child/Youth Development
Runner Up: South Otago Family Works Buddy Programme
Winner: Kaitangata Car Show and Run

Supreme Winner
West Otago Health Trust

Youth Spirit
Dion Falconer – Blue Mountain College

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