Volunteers recognised with Unsung Hero awards

Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult (left) and Rotary Queenstown president Russell McGrouther (right...
Queenstown Lakes Mayor Jim Boult (left) and Rotary Queenstown president Russell McGrouther (right) pictured with Rotary Queenstown’s Unsung Hero Award recipients Barbara Syme, Elibertus de Koning and Betty Hanan. PHOTO: TRACEY ROXBURGH
Three of Queenstown's most dedicated volunteers were honoured this week by Rotary Queenstown.

Betty Hanan, Barbara Syme and Elibertus de Koning were all presented with "Unsung Hero" awards during a special function at SkyCity Queenstown's Wild Thyme restaurant.

Mrs Hanan, originally from Ecuador, moved to New Zealand in 2007, having worked for the World Bank for 27 years.

She continued to consult for the bank, but began volunteering for Citizens Advice Bureau eight years ago.

She was a CAB board member five years ago, and a year later helped establish Queenstown's CanShop, which has become the "financial engine" for the Otago-Southland branch of the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

The store opened in mid-February 2015 - it now has 55 volunteers who run it, led by Mrs Hanan.

Mrs Syme is CAB's longest-serving volunteer, starting 17 years ago after her mother died.

A Queenstown resident for 25 years, Mrs Syme became a member of Friends of Abbeyfield in Queenstown in 2007, occasionally helped with Meals on Wheels, fundraised for charities and tended the gardens of friends whose husbands had died.

She was also a volunteer at the CanShop for three years.

Mr de Koning was recognised for his work with the Kelvin Peninsula Community Association and the Wakatipu Wildlife Trust to trap predators, purchasing his own traps and loaning them to neighbours.

He joined the trust in 2017 after he retired.

Mr de Koning spends his Saturdays volunteering for the trust at the Remarkables Market to raise awareness and money for new traps and bait, aiming to bring back birdlife and birdsong.

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