Local heroes recognised for doing 'exceptional things'

Southland Kiwibank local heroes (back, from left) Jim Geddes, Leon Hartnett, Caley Hall, (front...
Southland Kiwibank local heroes (back, from left) Jim Geddes, Leon Hartnett, Caley Hall, (front from left), Stephen O’Connor, Sandy Borland, Bernadette Hope, Caroline Dore and Eric ‘‘Tracker’’ Black, at a function in Invercargill. PHOTO: LOGAN SAVORY
Eight ''everyday'' Southlanders who do ''exceptional things'' were recognised last night at the 10th annual Kiwibank Local Hero Awards in Invercargill.

Specially made medals were presented by Southland Mayor Gary Tong at the Civic Theatre, as part of the New Zealander of the Year Awards.

''This year's Local Heroes are unsung members of our community who have made this region a better place to live,'' he said.

''Their acts of charity, optimism and commitment have had a profound effect on many Southlanders.''

The medals were among 322 presented nationwide this year, and all recipients qualify for the New Zealand Local Hero of the Year Award which will be announced at an awards gala in Auckland, in February next year.

Kiwibank chief executive officer Steve Jurkovich said while some recipients might not see themselves as heroes, their stories of courage, charity, achievement and ambition made them so.

''They sure sound like heroes to us.

''It's our chance to say thanks and show each and every one of them just how special they are.''

Southland's Kiwibank Local Heroes are:

Eric (Tracker) Black (Bluff)

Is a member of the Bluff Hill/Motupohue Environment Trust.

For the past 47 years, he has ensured the local beaches are kept clean by regularly picking up rubbish and lost fishing gear.

He has also been involved with the organising committee for the Fiordland and Stewart Island Coastal Clean-ups programme, which has removed 52 tonnes of rubbish.

Stephen O'Connor (Invercargill)

Has given 25 years to the Invercargill Rotary Club, which has seen him at the forefront of many community-driven initiatives.

He is also chairman of Southland disABILITY Enterprises, a trustee of the Community Trust of Southland, a trustee of the Invercargill Catholic Education Trust and a life member of YMCA Invercargill.

Jim Geddes (Gore)

Is governor of the Gore Arts Foundation. He founded the Eastern Southland Gallery in 1984 and has since worked tirelessly to grow the arts and heritage sector in the area.

He established the Hokonui Heritage Centre, which includes the Hokonui Moonshine Museum, the Croydon Aviation Museum, East Gore Arts Centre and the Gore Historical Museum.

His dedication to the arts sector has seen him recognised with a Queen's Service Medal, a Creative New Zealand award and the Museums Aotearoa Individual Achievement Award.

Caroline Dore (Gore)

Known as the ''Nattering Knitter'', Ms Dore is the founder
of Hug Rugs - a charity supporting new refugees in Otago and Southland with donated knitted rugs and blankets.

She began the initiative in 2016 for refugees being housed in Dunedin, expanding it to Invercargill and working with organisations including Plunket, St Vincent de Paul, the Salvation Army and Gore Hospital.

Leon Hartnett (Invercargill)

Has helped organise many charity events in Invercargill, including Free Comic Book Day - an event run by the Invercargill Rotary Club, to provide 1000 comic books to the library and children.

He has also organised the St Patrick's Day Festival in Invercargill, TEDx Invercargill, the Bluff Oyster Festival, and Pavluber (a dessert delivery project to raise funds for disability training organisation Koha Kai).

He is now helping to launch an IHC disability friendship programme for Invercargill residents.

Sandy Borland (Invercargill)

Is a nurse who works with the Pacific Island Nursing Service.

As well as running the Centre Street Dairy, she often responds to after-hours phone calls voluntarily.

Despite battling her own health issues, she continues to help others in her community.

Bernadette Pope (Invercargill)

Is the manager of Cornerstone Care, one of the South Island's largest child care centres.

She often cares for more than 150 children each day, focusing on building strong family bonds between children and parents.

At the same time, she looks after her own eight children.

She is also pastor of Cornerstone New Life Church and has organised a range of community events, including the church carnival.

Caley Hall (Invercargill)

Is an Invercargill artist who donates many of his paintings to charity, including Cure Kids.

Last year, he donated a $6000 artwork to the Invercargill Grief and Loss Centre, which was raffled and all proceeds went to the organisation.

He is an honorary member of the Fiordland Art Society and is fundraising for the Branches Trust in Queenstown - an organisation raising funds for outdoor pursuits courses for teenagers.

john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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