Stratford district acknowledges local champions

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The Stratford District Council Citizens Awards are held each year to formally recognise those individuals that give significant amounts of their time and energy to the community.

“We have some truly dedicated and hardworking individuals in our community which makes this one of the most special times of the year, when we get to recognise these champions of our district,” says Mayor Neil Volzke. 

“The ability to award the Outstanding Citizen Award for a second year in a row adds to the excitement,” said Mayor Volzke. 

The Outstanding Citizen Award was introduced in 2018 to recognise a person who has made an extra special contribution to the community, and is presented at the discretion of the selection panel. 

Friends and family are invited to attend the awards ceremony on Tuesday 30 July 5.30pm at the Council Chambers. Full interviews with the recipients will be shown on the night. 

The 2019 Stratford District Council Citizen Award recipients are:

Outstanding Citizen Award Recipient: Margaret Vickers.

Citizen Award Recipients: Judy Drummond, Diann Jeffares, Raewyn McDonald and John More.

Margaret Vickers

Margaret VickersMargaret was born and bred in Stratford and grew up in a dairying family. Today she is proud to note that her family farm is now being run by its sixth generation. Margaret was awarded a Citizens Award in 2000 which was a direct recognition of the significant amount of work she had done through her membership of Rural Women, various community groups and as the unofficial Mayoress of Midhirst. 

Margaret has not slowed down in the 19 years that have followed her Citizens Award. She was a founding member of the Stratford Community House Trust and the Stratford Positive Ageing Group. Ten years on, she is pleased to see the Community House in full operation and addressing a community need. She is most fond of the Positive Ageing Forum with Billie Jordan who brought her group ‘The Hip Op-eration Crew’ to Stratford. These forums are important to the district and she has always found it rewarding when attendees note what they have learned at them.

She has remained an active member of the Stratford Floral Art and many of her creations have been front of house at civic events.  Her work with Rural Women and the Midhirst community has continued to be an important part of her life. She noted that collating the emergency packages after the 2015 June storm events was one of the most overwhelming experiences she has been a part of with Rural Women. 

Margaret has been a stalwart champion of our district and her continuation of service to our community is nothing short of outstanding. Margaret says, “I love to see a community thriving and moving forward” and she has certainly been a big part in helping Stratford achieve this. 

Judy Drummond

Judy DHaving grown up in Nelson, Judy “came back to her roots” in 1964 to study nursing at the then Stratford Hospital. She met her husband Graeme soon after and began their farming career on Beaconsfield Road where they lived for 25 odd years and raised their children. 

Judy returned to nursing in 1978 and dedicated roughly 37 years of her life to this. She held many roles during this time including the afternoon charge nurse at the hospital. She moved into district nursing following the closure of the Stratford Hospital, a role that saw her travel far and wide to service the central and coastal areas of Taranaki.

Her long nursing career, and in particular her work in palliative care, saw her gain qualifications in hospice palliative care which has led to her involvement in Taranaki Hospice as a trustee and the Hospice Group as a biographer. The role of biographer sees Judy visiting people in their homes to record precious life stories and memories for their loved ones – a task she finds extremely humbling. 

Judy’s other community commitments include being a member of the Stratford Women’s Club, a Stratford Lion and a committee member of the Stratford Rugby Club – a result of following her boys rugby for over 30 years!

She has always been a keen sportsperson and is now an active member of the Stratford Croquet Club – as well as being the secretary!On top of all her community commitments she also has seven grandchildren keeping her busy, especially on Saturday mornings moving from soccer, to netball to rugby. She was extremely proud of her grandson Lachlan when he was awarded a Youth Citizen Award in 2018 but was “totally dumbfounded” when she was notified of her award, saying, “I could never have done anything without the support of my family.” 

Diann Jeffares

Diann JDiann grew up in Stratford and says it was a privilege, having a lot of freedom to enjoy life when she was younger. A keen sportsperson Diann played squash, tennis, badminton and was a very good basketballer. Her Mum, Dot, was a dance teacher, and those talents were passed down to Diann who said many mornings before school involved dance practice. She went on to help her mum with teaching, and soon took up her own dance studio.

Diann has been hugely influential in the dance community, teaching young girls and boys between 4 and 19 years old for over 55 years, and is still going strong. She covers everything from ballet, tap and jazz through to musical theatre. She enjoys teaching and says it’s nice to be a part of their lives, with many now grown up but still keeping in touch.

Diann volunteers much of her time to her faith, the Catholic Church, which began some 33 years ago when she was asked to be a Eucharistic Minister, delivering communion at church and in the community. She also spent a lot of her time at St Joseph’s School as a parent helper, a passion that later saw her qualify as a Teacher Aide. She spent 20 years at St Joseph’s, fondly remembered by students as “Mrs J, because Jeffares was too hard to pronounce,” said Diann. 

Her involvement in community organisations started at a young age, joining Rotaract in the early 70’s in what was her first secretarial role. Since then Diann has played a large part in the community, including nine years as Mayoress when husband Brian held the office of Mayor. Diann said these were very busy years with many highlights, attending a number of functions nationally and locally. Her attendance at Civic Functions hasn’t slowed down since, being a regular at ANZAC wreath making sessions. 

Diann’s other passions include singing, sparking an interest in joining the Stratford Singers when Stratford attended the Stratford’s of the World event in the UK. She is also a member of the Stratford Women’s Club. Diann now joins her husband in receiving a Citizen Award, with Brian acknowledged in 2013. Something their three children and grandchildren will be very proud of. 

Raewyn McDonald

Raewyn MRaewyn was born and grew up in Stratford and was a familiar face at the Farmers Co-Op in Stratford before beginning her own family. The family moved to Australia and Cambridge following her husband’s work but returned “home” to Stratford where both their parents were still living. 

You will recognise Raewyn as a committed Stratford Lion, being involved in most of their fundraising events and community activities including meals on wheels and blood donor drives. She has currently held the role of secretary and is the almoner for the club – which means she looks after those in our community who look after others! She is also the secretary for the Stratford Women’s Club and sits on the Marire Rest Home committee and is involved with the Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day and Tree of Remembrance at Christmas. 

For the last five years Raewyn’s giving nature has seen her volunteer most of her time, three days a week officially, to Pregnancy Help. Pregnancy Help supports parents for those early years. Raewyn says this can include everything from free pregnancy tests, courses on first aid and ante-natal classes, to breast pumps and a nappy bank. What’s most amazing is their clothing packages, both maternity and baby clothing. Every three months Raewyn and the team send a new clothing package to the families they service. This can include babies from premature age right through to two year olds. In the last year Pregnancy Help have been able to support 520 new families with free confidential advice and support. 

Raewyn takes pride in the resources they offer to families, going above and beyond to support with extra washing, sewing, and knitting for the organisation beyond her volunteer hours. “We just love it,” says Raewyn, referring to herself and the three other volunteers and one paid staff member who run the service. “The difference it makes in their lives is worth it.” 

John More

John MJohn was born and bred in Stratford. He met his wife Noelene at high school, and then completed a building apprenticeship with Boon Brothers. In 1962 he chose to go down the farming path, taking up a share milking job on Croydon Road.

John and Noelene farmed on Croydon Road for eight years, during which he became secretary of the Croydon School Committee. “It was one of those things that you were expected to do. I remember coming home and Noelene telling me I don’t know a thing about being a secretary,” said John.  It was the start of many committee positions, after the family moved to Cardiff in 1971 he was elected as Chairman of Pembroke School until his youngest left for high school. He was also an active member of the Pembroke Hall Committee and supported many fundraising and development efforts. They lived on Cardiff Road until the move into Stratford in 2017.

In 1991 he was sworn in as a Justice of the Peace (JP), providing services to the district and wider for close to 30 years now. This led to being one of the few hundred specially trained judicial JP’s in New Zealand. 

John has been a dedicated member of many community organisations, notably the RSA on both a local level as Chair and national level on the Executive Committee. He has also held positions as Master for the Stratford Masonic Lodge, and then District Master for the North Island and has been involved with the Scottish Society since 1971. He has picked up Life Memberships at all three of these organisations, including now being a Patron of the Scottish Society. That might be something to do with his ability to recite the “Ode to the Haggis” off by heart!

He is also part of the Taranaki Patriotic Trust which distributes funds to individuals and organisations in Taranaki. John has put a lot of hours into this community, but in his humble way, he says, “I’ve been pretty lucky to have a wife and family that has allowed me to do these things. It’s been a pleasure.”