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Community Service Stars Shine Brightly

Over 160 years of accumulated volunteer community service was acknowledged at the 32nd Palmerston North Civic Awards on Wednesday night (28 October, 2020).

Two of the four award winners have clocked up more than a century of service between them.

Valerie (Val) Bolter, Paul Patel, Phil Pirie and Brian Watt were presented with Civic Honours by Mayor and Mayoress Grant and Michelle Smith at the Palmerston North Conference and Function Centre event.

“The Civic Honour Awards are our city’s highest recognition for voluntary service, and the recipients have spent decades as community heroes largely unacknowledged outside their immediate circles,” Mayor Smith says.

Bolter was recognised for her contributions to Palmerston North community theatre and dance over the past 56 years.

The versatile theatre practitioner and choreographer, whose latest production opens at the Globe Theatre in November, has also been involved as a tutor and manager of the city’s Over 50s Dance community since the late 1980s.

Watt, the long-serving board chair of well-known city firm Leader & Watt, joined the Lions Club of Middle Districts in 1970.

He remains active in local and national roles as the second-longest serving member of Lions International, which raises millions of dollars for community health, wellbeing and welfare-focused causes.

Patel has given local Indian communities a voice during his 39 years as a driving force behind the Central Districts Indian Sports Club and Central Districts Indian Association.

In his second term as president of the national New Zealand Indian Central Association, Patel provides advocacy for victims of crime and other issues, is a member of the Manawatū Multicultural Council, and instigated the inaugural Diwali in The Square celebrations last year.

Head of the Manawatū Events Equipment Trust (MEET) since setting it up 19 years ago, Pirie has made an outstanding contribution to local community events management, including the construction of the Trust’s gear storage shed on his property.

The Trust enables community sports clubs, charitable organisations and schools to hold public events without the prohibitive costs associated with providing essential traffic and event management equipment, signage and expertise.

While none of the recipients make selfless contributions with any sort of wider recognition in mind, Mayor Smith says it’s a shame these ‘stars’ had to wait so long before someone ‘dobbed in’ their good deeds.

He would prefer to see people nominated for recognition much earlier in their volunteering careers.

Guest speaker at the awards presentation was Yvette McCausland-Durie, coach of NZ U21 netball, recently retired coach of champion ANZ Premiership side the Central Pulse, and co-founder of successful Palmerston North secondary school Manukura.

Award citations were read by the city’s former Deputy Mayor and newly elected Member of Parliament for Palmerston North, Tangi Utikere.

© Scoop Media

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