Heroes backbone of society

Seven Northlanders contributing to their community in extraordinary ways have been celebrated as the Kiwibank Local Heroes.

James Bidois' tireless efforts with Surf Lifesaving in Northland have earned him a local heroes award. Despite sustaining serious injuries after an assault on Ocean Beach in 2006, Whangarei Heads local Mr Bidois has been back on the beach coaching future Surf Lifesavers.

Helen McGregor is referred to by members of her Whangarei community as "Mrs Everything". She is the driving force behind the pastoral care at her local church and organises home visits for the elderly and ill as well as community visits and other services.

Whangarei local Millan Ruka has done his region a service for his relentless documentation of our waterways. At 61, Millan is committed to exposing the mistreatment of our water systems, in the hope that action will be taken to preserve them.

Pat Cherrington has been a constant figure of support for her Tikipunga community, recently offering victims of a house fire shelter, food and support.

Frank Derrington "Derry" Godbert is an inspiration for his Kerikeri community after years of giving up hours each week to mentor youth through his sailing courses. He has coached and mentored notable sports figures, including Northland Sportsperson of the Year Blair Tuke.

Clive Boonham has had a huge impact in his community of Kaipara after he championed tirelessly the rights of ratepayers, in particular those of Mangawhai residents.

Terry O'Meara has served his Ruakaka and Marsden community since 1975. He was Scout Leader of his region and had an instrumental role in establishing St Johns in Mangawhai.

"Those acts of charity, optimism and commitment are the glue that hold a community together and as a community we must stand alongside one another and give thanks for their efforts," said Whangarei Mayor Morris Cutforth, who presented the medals to the community figures.

"Many of these medal winners are unsung heroes whose selflessness has had a profound effect on the lives of so many in the community."

Three finalists from all of New Zealand will be chosen to attend the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Gala Awards and a national winner of the Local Hero Award will be chosen.

- Northern Advocate

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