Persons of the Year 2016
River City Press usually selects an individual or sometimes a couple for the ‘River City Press Person of the Year Award for outstanding contributions to Wanganui.’
For 2016 we have instead selected a group of people – the Rotary Club of Wanganui North – for the award. Their range of community activities benefitting not only charitable causes in Whanganui but also individuals, especially the youth, make them a most worthy recipient.
Perhaps the most significant of their recent projects has been their partnership with Bushy Park since 2014 to develop the attractions of the park. The initial Wetlands Project has led to the construction of a 90m boardwalk, a 60 seat amphitheatre, a native planting programme and the provision of educational signage. The project was official opened by Governor General, Sir Jerry Mataparae.
The work continues with the production of a promotional video, a visitor guide and an informational rack card. Another new track, viewing platforms and seating have been added. Early next year the club plans to put in a number of shell rock tracks, construct an outdoor reception area complete with shade sails and seating and renew the front entrance to the park.
The club is frequently in the news. On Sunday, December 11 they organised ‘Carols by Candlelight,’ something they have been doing for over 20 years. It requires considerable planning, co-ordination with other community people and some hard work, such as packing up and picking up any rubbish left behind after everyone else has gone home to bed. Birthright will be the beneficiary this year from the gold coin donations.
A new activity which they intend to build on in future years, is the Rotary North Stakes, which they held at the end of November. Over 40 Whanganui individuals and businesses contributed cash donations and voucher for prizes for the various indoor rowing challenges, including one between the Mayor, Hamish McDouall, Councillor Philippa Baker-Hogan and Collegiate Headmaster Chris Moller, who won the race.
The evening raised $2000 to purchase top quality ENT instruments to be used for visiting volunteer surgeons to conduct ENT clinics in Samoa. A Rotary Trust Fund will double that amount. It helps to fulfil the dream of Samoan ENT surgeon Dr P. J. Faumui who lives and works in Whanganui.
Local orthopaedic surgeon and Club member, John van Dalen has collaborated with Whanganui Hospital to provide local art for the walls of the corridors. Club funds are matched by the hospital. This year iconic local images by photographer Mark Brimblecombe will adorn the walls.
The club has an annual Rural-Urban night to help rural schools raise funds. Club members join local parents and school supporters for a paid meal provided by the school PTA. The evening usually sees children from the school entertaining the guests and an auction to help fundraising. This Rotary year it will be Kaitoke School’s turn.
Most Rotary Clubs donate copies of the Usborne Illustrated English Dictionaries to year 4 students. Rotary North donates to Tawhero, Whanganui East and Churton and does a follow up dictionary quiz for teams of three students from each school, with all students receiving a voucher prize.
The club does significant fund raising and the big one is their annual ‘Trailer Raffle’ just before Christmas. The trailer is filled with products purchased locally and the 6,000 tickets are normally sold very quickly. Proceeds go to supporting local youth through Rotary Leadership programmes as well as to sporting, cultural and academic events and sponsorship.
Membership of the club is around 45 and they represent a wide variety of occupations as well as retired people. The list of occupations covers doctors, ambulance personnel, farmers, real estate, plumbing, accountancy, business management, insurance, prison, pharmacists, fire service, motelliers, education, travel, vets and even a district judge. It is open to both males and females.
Ask the members why they belong and the most likely answer will be “to help out in the community.”
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