Mosgiel woman Cecilia Sullivan-Grant is reaping the
rewards of a life of hard work and more than a decade dedicated
The 54-year-old won the Kiwibank Local Hero of the Year
Award, at the New Zealander of the Year Awards in Auckland
last week, for her work in helping people with severe
disabilities find meaningful employment.
But her values, which led to the award, were instilled in her
when she was growing up in Otaio, a farming area in South
Her father was a ''proud'' and hard-working farmer, who
showed her ''it seems to be good for people to be
The positive experiences people could take out of meaningful
employment led her to help disabled people find employment
which suited their situations, she said.
The people she worked with were the ''real heroes'' as they
took the risk of trying something new.
''Helping people is good, but it's much better to provide the
tools so people can help themselves,'' Mrs Sullivan-Grant
She had ended up in the work ''quite by accident''.
''My skill seems to be finding ways to do things differently.
That number-8-wire technology.''
That came in handy when she was on the Dunedin Mayor's
Taskforce for Jobs. Mrs Sullivan-Grant was instrumental in
helping put apprenticeships back on the careers map.
The taskforce introduced graduation ceremonies for
apprentices in Dunedin, which was a New Zealand first, and
helped raise the profile of apprenticeships at a time when
they were being overlooked.
She had achieved all of her success, while keeping her own
health struggles in check, as she was diagnosed with Crohn's
disease in the 1980s.
She downplayed the condition and said: ''When I'm well I
don't think about it''.
But it had given her some appreciation of the difficulties
those with disabilities faced when it came to having the
energy to work.