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Peter Nicholson was acknowledged for his 20 years of service. PHOTO: KELLEY TANTAU

Thames community patrollers recognised

Senior Constable Gareth Carter from Thames Police has a vivid memory about Peter Nicholson and his late wife Carole.
“There were burglars down at the marina and I thought: ‘Oh yes, I’m gonna catch these guys’,” he recalled at an awards evening for the Thames Community Patrol last week.
“I went running in there thinking ‘I’ve caught them, I’ve caught them’ – but they had beat me to it. It was the community patrol that actually beat the police in getting there.”
Volunteers of Thames’ community patrol – which has been operating in the town for 20 years – were recognised at a service award ceremony at Thames Police Station on March 14.
Peter was one of the recipients.
He has been involved with keeping the streets safe for two decades, and said back in the day, when the pubs closed, the patrollers could hardly drive down Pollen St because the roads would “fill up with people”.
“With the patrol, we like it to be boring,” he said. “If it’s boring, then you know there’s nothing happening.”

On those quiet nights, Peter and his wife Carole would head out to Kōpū and count the rabbits.
Then, they’d count the number of cats they encountered.
“It was just to keep our minds open and active,” he said.
George West was also posthumously recognised for his long-standing service.
He died in 2022, but his wife Jan and daughter Louise were there to accept the award.
“Dad was very proud to be part of the community patrol, and mum and I were proud of the work he did,” Louise said. “We want to thank you so much for thinking to invite us here today. My partner said: ‘God, [dad is] still getting awards’.”
Thames-Coromandel Mayor Len Salt told members the work they did was “absolutely fabulous”.
“What it does is it goes to the heart of what community is all about. We’ve had a rough few weeks, as you know, and the thing that always shines is the level of contribution from ordinary people within the community; people that live next door, down the road, and in the parts of town we see, day in and day out.”
Community Patrols New Zealand chairperson Chris Lawton, who travelled from Auckland to be at the event, said community patrols created “the feeling of safety in our communities”.
“And that is hard-earned and easily lost,” he said.
“Day time is just as important as night time, and if no one cared in our communities, no one would feel safe. People feel safe because of what you guys do.”
Senior Constable Gareth Carter also shared his thanks.
“I really appreciate it, as do the other police who live locally, because to have you guys out there, even if it’s just on the radio to call for back-up, at least we know there are ears listening to Thames.”
DETAILS: To volunteer contact Graeme Wood on 027 417 8224 or 07 868 8095.