Dedicated community members to be recognised with Citizens Award
Stratford District Council is pleased to announce four Stratford District community members will be presented with a Citizens Award in 2021.
District Mayor Neil Volzke says year on year he’s impressed at the continued effort people put in to the wellbeing of the Stratford community.
The awards are an annual tradition that’s spanned over 30 years, inviting the community to share nominations for people that go that extra mile.
“Every year we have worthy recipients, there’s no end to good community minded people here in the Stratford district,” he says.
“While this year we haven’t awarded an Outstanding Citizen Award or Youth Citizen Award, I don’t doubt that there will be opportunities in future years,” said Mayor Volzke.
The Stratford District Council Citizens Awards formally recognise individuals that give significant amounts of their time and energy to the community.
Friends and family are invited to attend the awards ceremony on Tuesday 3 August 5.30pm at the Council Chambers, 63 Miranda Street, Stratford.
Full interviews with the recipients will be shown on the night and shared on Council’s website and Facebook page post the event.
The 2021 Stratford District Council Citizens Award recipients are Hilary Jane, Alan Manning, Raewyn Rooney and Michael Walsh.
You can learn more about our 2021 award recipients below.
Hilary is famous in Stratford for bringing joy to those around her. She says, “it costs nothing to make someone smile” and when we asked what her secret was she said “it probably all comes down to the cakes.”
Sponge cakes to be exact and the number of these cakes Hilary has baked and given away out of the kindness of her heart probably exceeds the number of marathons her husband Albie has run, and believe us when we say he’s run a lot!
Hilary’s generosity she shares with the community, friends and our elderly community members in particular, is just one of the reasons she is worthy of a citizens award this year.
She’s been part of the Stratford district since she moved here as a 10 year old with her family. It was five years later that she met Albie who was working at the Toko Dairy Factory at the time, they went on to marry at the age of 18 and have been farming ever since. Her father was a Presbyterian Minister and at high school Hilary first volunteered her time as a Sunday school teacher at Toko and Whangamomona.
A keen hockey player she then got involved with the Douglas Hockey Club committee in the 70s and 80s as both publicity officer and also a stint as president. She also coached hockey with the Pembroke School juniors and Central Kiwi Hockey in later years.
Farming on Pembroke Road meant she enjoyed a number of years being involved with the Pembroke School. She joined the committee in 1982 while her children were growing up and played a part in both the Centennial in 1993 and Jubilee in 2018.
For the Jubilee, Hilary did what she’s become renowned for locally, putting pen to paper and compiled the 125th Jubilee Book. Hilary has spent a lot of time and effort collating books for a number of other organisations and families. With 10 books under her belt, she’s produced books for the Stratford Hockey Centennial, Stratford A&P Association Centennial, the Pembroke School and District Jubilee, four family history books and two recipe books, Culinary Classics and Culinary Favourites. And if you’ve picked up a copy of the recipe books you’ll know they’re full of more than just good old fashion favourite food – they profile local people behind the recipes, telling stories that we’ll be cherishing for years to come.
Hilary says she’s not used to be interviewed because she’s normally on the other side of the questions. “I’ve done lots of interviews with very special people – recording local history, it’s always an honour talking to people. I have the highest respect for our older generation,” she says.
Hilary is also very well known for her work in promoting the Ayrshire cattle breed – joining the Taranaki Ayrshire Club in the early 1980s and becoming a life member in 2019. Her involvement with the club started as publicity officer, which she still holds, but she’s also been the secretary. Of course she was involved with the jubilee as well and has been the Junior Show organiser and a recorder for the Ayrshire section of the A&P Show.
Her dedication to Ayshires hasn’t gone unnoticed nationally, receiving the Kiteroa Trophy twice (in 1992 and again in 2003) for her contributions to promoting the breed. In 2012 she received the distinguished members award from New Zealand Ayrshire Association as well.
Hilary, your commitment to supporting local organisations and the people in our community makes you an exemplary citizen in our eyes and we’re pleased to be able to honour you with this award.
Alan’s been described as a true gentlemen and someone who has the patience of a saint and we couldn’t agree more.
Born in Stratford and raised in Makahu Alan spent the majority of his younger years farming and perfecting his sheep dog skills with the Mangaehu-Stratford Sheep Dog Trial Club. It’s this sport that Alan has dedicated a huge amount of his life to. Clocking up 50 years with the club to date, he was made a life member in 1997 and is still involved in the trials helping out where and when he can. When asked about why he loves the sport so much, he modestly credits it to others. “I just like being involved, and the locals are good people to work with,” he says.
Continuing on the theme of long service, Alan’s been involved with the Stratford Table Tennis Club for almost 20 years. Starting out as club president and still holding that position, Alan tells us “I can’t seem to get the sack!” This might be because without Alan’s support to table tennis over the years, we probably wouldn’t have a club in Stratford. Through the highs and lows of the club numbers, it’s Alan who makes a concerted effort to keep people interested in the sport locally. Alan says, “We do struggle with numbers now, looking back in the 50s the club would have up to 70 people playing but now 15 is a good night.” We’re told Alan is always the first to arrive and set up the tables and equipment for the night, and is quick to greet any new people and introduce them to everyone to make them feel welcome. A good invitation to join the club if you’re interested!
He’s also a key driver in ensuring table tennis is included in the Taranaki Masters Games each year – drawing people from outside the region to play and visit our district. Alan speaks fondly of the masters games with one of his many highlights being the time he played mixed doubles with a woman who was 93 years old. “She was inspirational – we got a bronze medal thanks to her,” he says.
For the past 11 years Alan has been an integral part of the Stratford Community Patrol. Starting out in 2010, Alan’s commitment to a safer community has gone beyond just patrolling for a few hours a week. He also maintains the patrol vehicle, helps to train and mentor new volunteers, and supports with the wider work of the Central Taranaki Community Safety Trust including the Stratford Safety Plates service and events.
It was together with his neighbour Leon that Alan got involved with the trust and when asked why he does it, he says “it’s just a way of doing something for the community.” He confesses that he’s also seen some funny things while on duty!
Alan’s nominators said, “Whether it's always parking the patrol car so the other drivers don't have to reverse out, or ensuring it's clean tidy and full of gas, it's that kind of next-level kindness and consideration that matters.”
Alan shows no sign of slowing down and tells us he hopes to continue doing what he’s doing for a while yet. “If you’re doing something good every day, then you’re doing something aren’t you,” he says.
Thank you Alan for looking after our community with such a big heart.
When you think of Raewyn Rooney, daffodils spring to mind. In August every year she fights through a bout of bad hay fever (that’s right, she’s allergic to Daffodils!) and does what she does best for her community.
Raewyn first became involved with Taranaki Cancer Society and the annual Daffodil Day fundraiser in Stratford 22 years ago. Over that time she has perfected the art of fundraising, seeing a steady increase in daffodil day sales and donations year on year. “When we first started we were raising around $4,000 and now we can get up to $22,000 from Stratford,” she says. An amazing achievement that she says is shared across 12 female committee members, and up to 70 helpers on the day itself. Raewyn has been Daffodil Day team leader for the last five years, and on top of this has also been involved with the Relay for Life for 11 years, being on the committee for three and supporting with golf fundraisers events as well.
Raewyn says it’s easy to volunteer for the Taranaki Cancer Society. “They make you feel appreciated. I had been volunteering for them for a year when my mother in law passed away with cancer so that helped motivate me to stay. We’ve also had other cancer in my family including myself, so I wanted to help fundraise and make a difference to those impacted by cancer,” she says.
In addition to this, Raewyn has been hugely influential across School Boards of Trustees. She was part of the Taranaki School Trustees Association for 20 years and the New Zealand School Trustees Association for four years. It was while the kids were going through school that Raewyn put her hand up to be more involved, which led her to be on the Avon School Board for 11 years, eight of which she was Chair, and the Stratford High School Board for eight years, holding the role of Chair for five of those.
During her time at Stratford High School Raewyn was instrumental in making improvements to the Teen Parent Unit. “The way it was being run at the time wasn’t conducive to learning or parenting,” she says. “I got so sad seeing mums at one end of town and babies at the other, something needed to be done.” Using her knowledge of the Ministry of Education, Raewyn advocated for change and was proud to be at the opening of the now on-site teen parent unit at Stratford High School in 2010.
Not one to turn down the opportunity to help, Raewyn has also done her time with kids sports over the years, coaching netball, basketball, soccer and also playing a part in the Stratford Marching Club. She designed and made their uniforms which led to them being awarded the best dressed at a tournament. So we can add fashion designer to the list of skills as well.
On top of all of this she has given her time in a number of other ways, like delivering church newsletters and being part of the Neighbourhood Watch as Coordinator for the Celia Street area. All while being a supportive mother and nana to her whānau. Raewyn tells us her desire to help others started at just age five when she joined the Brownies and then went on to Girl Guides. Leadership came naturally at a young age as she earned her Chief Commissioner badge for the Girl Guides.
It’s no wonder her nomination form says that she’s “worth her weight in gold and an invaluable asset to our community.” We asked her what the secret is to working so passionately and tirelessly for the community, and she put it down to the “feel good factor.” “I love supporting people and if everyone had an opportunity to do a small bit of volunteer work they would feel the benefit that I get and want to keep doing it.”
Congratulations Raewyn on your deserving award!
Michael’s nomination described him as a “real asset to every community organisation he’s been involved in”. His involvement has spanned a few decades and includes his trusty old tractor!
We’ll start with Michael’s birth place, Marire Home, a property he would become more connected with in his adult life. Michael then spent his primary school years at Bird Road School and secondary school as a border at St Patricks College in Silverstream before taking up farming on Bird Road. During this time while kids were growing up Michael was Chair of the Bird Road School Board prior to its closure and held both Chair and Secretary roles on the Skinner Road Hall committee prior to its closure as well. He was later involved with the hall sale and relocation to its current home at the A&P Showgrounds. In 2014 Michael and Carolyn sold the farm to move into Stratford.
Growing up in a family of faith, Michael has been involved with the Church of the Immaculate Conception throughout his whole life. He held a position on the finance committee for 20 years and joined the Parish Council in the 70s for a number of years. In 2009 Michael project managed the new Presbytery build and since then has been appointed project manager of church facilities, maintaining both the Eltham and Stratford Catholic churches.
It was through the church that Michael reconnected with his birth place, Marire Home. A member of his church tapped him on the shoulder 23 years ago and asked him to join the board. That was 1998, and not too long after in 2005 he became Board Chair and still holds this position today. Michael’s also been involved with AgeCare Central, becoming a director in 2008 and he is now Deputy Chair of the AgeCare Central Board. A huge asset to the aged care industry in Stratford, Michael’s given more than his business expertise to these organisations but has also volunteered for many years doing maintenance work on the buildings and grounds.
Perhaps it’s Michael’s keenness for golfing that’s given him the energy to be so involved in his community. Joining the Stratford Golf Club in 1966 he’s dedicated 55 years to the sport locally, doing a stint as club president for two years in 1994, and was also involved with the Pukengahu Golf Club prior to its closing. He was made a life member of the Stratford Golf Club in 2008.
He volunteers as the course convenor and together with his trusty old farm tractor has spent many hours ensuring the grounds are in tip top shape for golfers.
All this hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed in the golfing world. He was invited to join the Taranaki division of the Eagles Golfing Society, which is made up of people around the country who give a lot of service to golf clubs. The society is a charitable organisation whose members support the Halberg Foundation through fundraising events. These funds are primarily used to support physically disabled young people into sporting and recreational opportunities within their communities.
A busy man, Michael is always more than happy to get stuck in and help get the job done. We asked him how he fits it all in at age 77. “I’m just lucky to have the time and health to do it,” he says.
Congratulations Michael, we’re pleased to acknowledge all the hard work you’ve given and continue to give for our community.