Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Former matron served in many war zones

Taradale woman Sylvia Frame has spent nearly 70 years helping others and is today recognised for her services to nursing, motoring and the community.

Ms Frame was just a 10-year-old when she joined the St John Ambulance cadet programme in Taradale, where she learned the value of voluntary service.

"I heard the words of Albert Schweitzer, he was a humanitarian and philosopher, talking to a class of young people and he said to them 'I know not what your destiny will be but this I do know: Only those of you who chose to serve others will be truly happy.'

"So I made a vow in my mind that wherever I worked I would always do, wherever possible, voluntary work. So that's what I have done."

The 78-year-old went on to serve as a Royal New Zealand Nursing Corps Officer from 1961 to 1969 for all three of the country's armed services on bases during conflicts in Vietnam, Malaysia, Borneo and the Pacific.

"I was involved in casualty evacuation and medical evacuations throughout the Pacific so that was long hours and hard work, but very rewarding."

Her work earned her the ranks of Major in the New Zealand Army and Squadron Leader as matron of the Royal New Zealand Air Force Nursing Services.

She considers her biggest achievement "managing to do it".

"I just enjoyed the challenge of something to do and the variety of things I have done.

"Nothing is impossible if you have the willpower and the vision."

After retiring from the armed forces in 1984, she was elected matron and hospital executive of Hawke's Bay Hospital from 1973 to 1990.

She was also elected councillor and the first woman chairperson of the Hawke's Bay and Gisborne Districts New Zealand Automobile Association Board, a member of the AA Central and AA National Council, and on the Regional Road Planning Services Committees for more than 20 years.

She has also given 18 years of service to the Hastings Red Cross and CORSO Child Aid programmes, and was also the Hawke's Bay District Health Board consumer representative for Elderly Care and Planning services.

She is a Strategic Planning Committee member for the Taradale RSA and trust member for Heritage Hawke's Bay Inc.

"You do as much as you can wherever you can for whoever you can for as long as you can, and I haven't finished yet.

"I don't go seeking it, it appears in front of you and you think 'I could help them'. That's how life works isn't it?"

Ms Frame said the award was humbling and unexpected recognition.

"I'm quite profoundly moved by the award and the honour.

"I was always proud to serve my Queen and country so to receive an honour is quite humbling really."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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