Medal shared by community

By Kiri Gillespie

Fittingly, Tauranga man Perry Keyte would only accept his Queen's Service Medal if he could do so on behalf of the Welcome Bay community.

The 60-year-old was awarded the medal for services to the community - an honour he said "humbles you a bit".

The medal has yet to sit comfortably with Mr Keyte, who has been involved actively in his community for 25 years, helping form the Welcome Bay Community Centre.

"It's not actually an individual effort, things only happen because people get involved," he said.

"It's actually a recognition of the community, people doing things in the community. It's the people around you. It's more acknowledging the work everybody has done."

In 2011, Mr Keyte was named a Bay of Plenty Times Community Gem and Kiwibank Local Hero.

His Christian faith helped motivate him to continue his work, along with seeing the rewards, he said.

"You have a heart for some of the younger ones.

"It's not an excuse but you can see why they go down the wrong paths. They just need love and care and guidance.

"I think when you start seeing those things ... what people pick up on is that positivity and they get involved."

In 2000, Mr Keyte initiated a Friday night youth activity programme at Welcome Bay Hall, which ran until 2006. The same year, in response to requests from the teens' parents, he helped establish the Welcome Bay Community Centre Incorporated Society, which runs the Welcome Bay Community Centre.

In 1985 Mr Keyte fell out of a tree and was paralysed from the chest down.

That same year he became more community-focused.

"It's just about caring for people. If you just care and support, that is probably half of it.

"A big percentage of people just want a listening ear."

Mr Keyte was also instrumental in helping raise money and awareness for the Spinal Cord Society of New Zealand.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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