Editorial: Christmas spirit alive and well in the Bay

By Scott Inglis


It's always a nice feeling to finish the year on a high note, and in the media business it's no different.

Some of what we have to cover throughout any given year can make pretty difficult reading.

But the media also has opportunities to publish good news and we do so regularly.

But we also have the chance to make a difference to people and the community.

Two examples of this are our 2012 Christmas Appeal, raising items and money for the Tauranga Community Foodbank, and presenting the Bay of Plenty Times Person of the Year award.

The Christmas Appeal has lasted six weeks and officially finished yesterday, although like last year we expect donations to continue coming in over the Christmas-New Year break.

The official tally as of yesterday afternoon was a whopping $59,351, which will provide the organisation with much-needed items well into next year.

The appeal has been hugely rewarding for us here at the Bay of Plenty Times. Reporter Genevieve Helliwell spearheaded the campaign, with help from Foodbank's Mike Baker, and achieved an incredible result.

Genevieve owned the project and delivered a raft of interesting stories week after week, as well as ensuring it was well organised, giving it the publicity it needed.

For me, personally, there were two highlights - the first was knocking on doors to collect donations from generous local people. It was so heart-warming to have people give what they can in these tough times.

The second was shaking Mike Baker's hand yesterday after we loaded the last of the donations that had amassed inside the Bay of Plenty Times offices in Durham St.

This is the second year we have run the foodbank campaign, raising a total of more than $100,000.

To all the people, businesses and other organisations that have donated and helped us, I'd like to say a huge thank you.

You are amazing and generous, and your response humbling. Without you, it would not have been possible. You have all made a difference to the lives of people who for whatever reason cannot afford to put food on their table.

I know it can be a cliche that this is the time for giving, but it is true. Christmas is a special time and I would hate to think that anyone - especially children and the elderly - would go hungry in the Bay.

This doesn't have to happen, thanks to the wonderful work of Mike Baker and the Foodbank team.

The other big event for us this week was a ceremony we held at our offices for Person of the Year.

It is the second year we have awarded this title in this format. Last year, Tauranga detective and super fund-raiser Pete Blackwell received the honour.

This year, prominent community leader and charity supremo Peter Wyatt is the recipient.

Peter, his wife, Anne, Pete Blackwell, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges and Mayor Stuart Crosby attended Thursday's ceremony with myself, Bay of Plenty Times general manager David Mackenzie and other senior and key staff.

It was a moving occasion and handing him the trophy meant a lot to me personally. As you might know, Peter Wyatt has cancer and is in the final stages of his life journey.

It has been a journey that has seen him give so much to the Bay community. Peter has established or played major roles in more than 20 charities and community organisations.

We received a number of nominations for this award, and I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to do this.

Peter Wyatt was the clear winner and met the key criteria, including having made a real difference to the lives of people on a vast scale.

His contribution is inspiring and the award well deserved.

He has done himself and his family proud.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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