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Instead, she was surprised to be presented with an RSA life membership award and a bunch of flowers in front of about 40 guests, hosted by Clutha Mayor Juno Hayes.
"Barbara is one of those people that keeps things going ... they don't have to do it, but they do it because they care," Mr Hayes said.
Mrs Wilson started volunteering for the RSA in 1993, when her father, Pat Fahey, asked her to help and she is now the welfare officer for the Lawrence branch of the Dunedin RSA.
Mrs Wilson said much of her role involved talking to the servicemen and widows, and she was amazed at how they managed to "get on with their lives".
She was grateful for the assistance she received from the RSA and the returned servicemen themselves.
Dunedin RSA president Alan Goding said Mrs Wilson was there to help ailing servicemen and comfort the bereaved.
She organised get-togethers for the ex-servicemen, was compassionate, understanding and performed many tasks without any recognition.