Pride of NZ: Beryl Reinders has voice of the community

By Amy Shanks

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Co-ordinator of The Phone News Hawke's Bay, Beryl Reinders has been nominated for the Pride of New Zealand Awards. She is pictured at home in Clive with her dog, Poppy. Photo/Duncan Brown
Co-ordinator of The Phone News Hawke's Bay, Beryl Reinders has been nominated for the Pride of New Zealand Awards. She is pictured at home in Clive with her dog, Poppy. Photo/Duncan Brown

The inaugural Pride of New Zealand Awards celebrate Kiwis whose community actions deserve recognition. Amy Shanks meets one of the deserving nominees.

Beryl Reinders has a beautiful speaking voice - one that's known to thousands of Hawke's Bay people who call in to hear her read the newspaper every month.

The 79-year-old Clive woman is now restricted by fibromyalgia, but continues to work from home as co-ordinator of a 30-strong volunteer group called The Phone News Hawke's Bay.

It has been going for about 10 years, starting out to cater for people with impaired vision and expanding to include a cross-section of the community, from elderly people to those who have suffered a stroke.

Every day before noon, Ms Reinders and her team ring to record different sections of the paper over the phone so it can be accessed by those who need it.

They cover everything from the front page lead, to letters and texts to the editor as well as community notices.

"About 15 years ago, I briefly did some work for the Foundation of the Blind. I went up to Auckland and saw them doing books for the Foundation, they suggested I had the voice for it. I helped out with one and came back here," she said.

"There was a blind lady [in Hawke's Bay] who was trying to get something off the ground. I consulted the Foundation to make sure we weren't doubling up. They have their own service only available to members, but they don't read the newspaper."

It soon became apparent there were many people who could benefit from being able to phone in and hear the news six days a week.

"After working in the community for a great many years I realised there are an awful lot of elderly people, who are very lonely and can't afford the paper, they are forgotten. They appreciate the fact that they can keep up with the news. Everyone should have that right."

At first Ms Reinders was flooded with readers, but the number of volunteers had been whittled down to a loyal, dedicated team of 30 ranging in age from 14 to 80.

It was for them that she agreed to be nominated for a Pride of New Zealand Award in the Community Spirit category.

"When I got sponsored for this I said, 'no thank you, I don't like publicity, I just like doing this, and helping others'. It's more for the readers. They deserve it; they have been so wonderful and so loyal, I just boss them about."

The Pride of New Zealand Awards is a joint venture with The Hits radio station and TSB Bank; supported by the Herald and APN regional newspapers.

They honour bravery and heroism, community spirit, lifetime achievement, emergency services, top fundraisers and those making a difference for the environment. Nominations are open until June 15.

For more information and to nominate, visit prideofnzawards.co.nz

- Hawkes Bay Today

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