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2023 individual volunteer winner Robert Bailey was nominated by The Order of St John. He is pictured with Raman Nanua from First Credit Union. Photo: SUPPLIED/VOLUNTEERING WAIKATO

Local volunteers recognised at awards event

Volunteers across the Waikato were celebrated in style at the 2023 Volunteer Waikato Excellence Awards in June. 

Several volunteers from Thames, Waihī and Paeroa were among those nominated. 

There were five award categories; event, individual, long service, team and youth. 

Robert Bailey of Hato Hone St John Waihī took home the top award in the individual category. The long-time altruist has spent 18 years volunteering with the organisation, and is currently the deputy chair of the Waihī area committee. 

“He is very humble and puts his hand up to volunteer willingly and without complaint to support his community and the youth of Waihī,” St John said in its nomination. 

“Robert brings knowledge into the community by delivering the three steps for life programme, which is very powerful in saving lives. Robert is caring and community minded and is a decent bloke who just keeps on giving.”

2023 long service volunteer runner up George Capper was nominated by the Victoria Battery Tramway Society. He is pictured with Shayne Wihongi, representing Seasons Magazine. PHOTO: SUPPLIED/VOLUNTEERING WAIKATO

Also celebrated was George Capper, who was the runner-up in the long service category for his time with the Victoria Battery Tramway Society. George joined the society in 1998, and has been a staple at the society’s museum ever since, spending an average of 20 hours a week volunteering. 

“George has, at times, almost run the society single handed, having held the president, secretary, treasurer and committee positions,” his nomination read. 

“[His] vast knowledge of the workings and history of the Victoria Battery Site and gold mining in general is relayed with stories both funny and real, to visitors young and old.”

A commendation was awarded to Thames Meals on Wheels in the team category, with Te Whatu Ora Health New Zealand saying in their nomination that the group was a “superstar team” making a positive impact. 

“For the last nine years, Thames Meals on Wheels has been a completely volunteer-managed, self-sustained and organised group of people from the Thames community, with two co-ordinators and 70 drivers keeping the service going,” Te Wahtu Ora said. 

“A ‘once a day’ knock on the door and a chat with a familiar friendly face can make all the difference to someone’s day.”

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Journalism funded by NZ on Air