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Real life leaves mark on employer’s success

Media release:

November 11 2016

Real life leaves mark on employer’s success

Employers often have real talent right under their noses, but it is not until someone new comes along that it is discovered.

Lifemark™ was a bit like that with Adam Wakeford until Geoff Penrose joined as the General Manager two years ago. Since then, the world has changed for Adam – and for Lifemark.

The outcome has seen Lifemark selected as a finalist in the ACC Employer category of the 2016 Attitude Awards. The national awards celebrate the excellence and achievements of Kiwis living with disability and chronic health.

Adam was 22-years-old and a newly-qualified builder when a swimming pool accident left him a tetraplegic. During his recovery, Adam studied architectural drafting and then became a ‘barrier free advisor’ (specialist in accessibility design). He also became a team member of New Zealand’s Wheel Blacks rugby team and was training and travelling overseas for tournaments.

When Geoff joined Lifemark, Adam was working on a casual basis. However, Geoff thought he had the experience and skills to contribute more. Lifemark specialises in training architects and draughtspeople to design in a way that makes the best use of space in homes so they will be liveable for a range of people across a longer life span.

“Having a wheelchair user on the team is invaluable,” Geoff says about Adam. “We need people with lived experiences, but also Adam’s building knowledge and general nous has contributed hugely to the success of the organisation.”

Adam is now an accessibility consultant for Lifemark. He has started to liaise with designers in wider industries, helping to implement accessibility design at product level. He’s not playing with the Wheel Blacks any more, but he’s on the NZ board of wheelchair rugby and is delighted to hold its board meetings at Lifemark’s Auckland premises.

Lifemark will find out if it has won an Attitude Award at a black-tie gala on November 29 at Auckland’s ASB Showgrounds.

ACC Chief Executive Scott Pickering says ACC is proud to sponsor the Employer Award category as well as being principal sponsor of the Attitude Awards for the ninth year.

“The Attitude ACC Employer Award finalists demonstrate that people with disabilities can contribute as much, if not more, than anyone else to the workplace,” Mr Pickering said. “We all have a part to play in making our society a truly inclusive one, and it’s great to share the stories and experiences of the finalists. I hope that other employers will be inspired by what these businesses have done, and the rewards they have reaped which make their efforts so worthwhile.”

There are eight categories in the 2016 Attitude Awards, with some new awards this year: Youth Spirit, Making a Difference, Emerging Athlete, Sporting Spirit, Spirit of Attitude, Artistic Achievement, Entrepreneur and Employer Award. The overall winner of the Attitude ACC Supreme Award is selected from the category winners and a People’s Choice winner and Hall of Fame inductee are also announced at the awards.

Dan Buckingham, Chair of the Attitude Trust, says: “The calibre of finalists is outstanding yet again, for what will be our ninth annual Attitude Awards. All 24 people deserve recognition for their achievements, so there are going to be some tough calls from the judges on the night to determine just eight winners, and one overall Supreme winner. You can find out more about them all, and have your say on who you think should come out on top with the People's Choice Award on"

The Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) returns as the principal sponsor of the 2016 Attitude Awards. Other sponsors supporting the awards are: Lion Foundation, Drake Medox, Barfoot & Thompson, Ministry of Health, KPMG, Westpac, Manawanui InCharge, Ricoh, HealthCare NZ, Air New Zealand and NZ on Air.

For tickets to the Attitude Awards gala evening on November 29 contact Terri Cavanagh at or phone 09 378 1565.

For the latest on the Awards and the Attitude TV programme:
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See behind the scenes on Instagram

Watch previous Awards footage at


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