The other deserving recipient Waiheke recipient of a Local Hero Award was Greg Dean. Greg was the instigator of the Jassy Dean Trust in memory of his teenage daughter Jassy who died tragically from meningococcal meningitis in 1994. The Trust helps Waiheke families who may require assistance at a time of crisis through accident or illness or who need on-going support as a result of accident or illness. The annual fundraiser for the Trust, the Waiheke Island Garden Safari, is an institution on the island attracting visitors from Auckland and around the world.
Both Billie and Greg were eloquent speakers who spoke about their work and their communities. In all there were 59 Local heroes from the Auckland region, ten of whom will be chosen later this month to go forward to the national awards. One will become, if you like, New Zealand’s Superhero. It must be a very difficult task for judges to single out a few individuals from amongst the many deserving recipients of last night’s awards let alone multiply that from over 200 heroes across the nation.
The Mayor, to give him his due, spoke of the importance of honouring those volunteers who give so much back to their communities by way of example, commitment and inspiration. It is so sad therefore that this Waiheke Local Board has chosen to cancel such awards on Waiheke after they were started by the first local board and Don McKenzie in particular. It's obvious we have more than our fair share of wonderful islanders to honour.
Don had been a previous Kiwibank Local Hero Award recipient and national finalist, honoured by his country with one of its highest accolades a CNZM. He has spent a lifetime working for the blind and disabled and knows the importance of such awards as one way of recognising the unpaid work of thousands of volunteers who make such a significant contribution to their communities. As many recipients last night were at pains to point out they were receiving their award on behalf of their teams of volunteers.Our heroes make a difference in their communities and that should be recognised by community leaders.