'Local heroes' recognised for services to community

Receiving awards for their efforts to make the Otago community a better place are (back, from...
Receiving awards for their efforts to make the Otago community a better place are (back, from left) Alex Gordon, Annabel Bulk, Ken Gillespie, Margaret O’Hanlon, Michael Tonks, Dr Ahmad Taha, Simon Hayes and Barry Becker; (front, from left) Tahu Mackenzie, Abby Golden, Karla Sanders, Juanita Willems and James Heath. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Eighteen Otago residents were recognised as local heroes last night.

The Kiwibank Local Hero of the Year Award recognises the contribution, sacrifice and dedication of locals who make their communities a better place.

Services to suicide prevention, healthcare, bullying prevention and local government were rewarded.

Recipients were given medals and words of thanks.

Among those recognised was the only neurosurgeon for the Southern District Health Board, Dr Ahmad Taha, who is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Holding the position for more than 10 years, Dr Taha is also a clinical senior lecturer and consultant neurosurgeon at the University of Otago.

For one award recipient, Donald Waugh, the ceremony came too late, as the dedicated volunteer died in November.

The Balclutha man was a regular delivery driver for the local Red Cross Meals on Wheels programme and read to members of the Blind Foundation.

Recipients were: Dr Ahmad Taha (Dunedin), neurosurgery, brain tumour research; Corinda Taylor (Dunedin), suicide prevention; Donald Waugh (Balclutha), volunteering; Juanita Willems (Kinmont), Foster Hope Otago; Tahu Mackenzie (Dunedin), Orokonui Ecosanctuary, conservation; Hannah Morgan (Dunedin), mental health advocacy; James Peter Heath (Dunedin), university advocacy, volunteering; Michael Tonks (Dunedin), programme for new fathers; Karla Sanders (Alexandra), bullying prevention; Abby Golden (Alexandra), volunteering; Barry Becker (Oturehua), local government, volunteering; Alex Gordon (Roxburgh), volunteering, Rotary; Ken Gillespie (Oturehua), community projects; Simon Hayes (Queenstown), community projects; Terry Emmitt (Cromwell), community project (hockey); Annabel Bulk (Bannockburn), conservation, biodynamics; Brigette Paterson (Teviot Valley), town initiatives; Margaret O'Hanlon (Queenstown), volunteering.

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