Wife's memory keeps Eric helping out

By Hannah Norton

After his wife died 19 years ago, Eric Bettridge decided to devote his time to volunteering in her honour.

"She was in many different organisations such as Cub Scouts and every time I receive an award, I think, 'I wish Bev was here'," he says.

The Ruakaka 82-year-old has just received a Child Cancer Distinguished Service Award for his fundraising efforts spanning a decade.

Child Cancer Foundation (CCF) Northland chairwoman Louise O'Hagan says Eric has been an integral part of the branch.

"Eric is one of life's givers and has been responsible for a lot of the money collected for CCF in Northland during his lengthy involvement.

"Every year, he puts his hand up to organise remembrance day, national appeal and our annual garage sale," Ms O'Hagan said.

"Eric is irreplaceable and it is wonderful to be able to show him how much we appreciate him."

Due to recent ill health, Eric has been forced to take a step back from the Child Cancer Foundation but is keen to still be involved and is determined to hold the foundation's annual garage sale in August, she said.

Mr Bettridge said he first got involved with CCF when volunteering for Camp Quality, a camp for children aged 5 to 16 living with cancer.

"I got to meet a few of the children with cancer as I would transport them from here to Auckland. I really enjoyed helping these younger people.

"What really drives me is the pleasure of helping people. I rather enjoy it," he said.

A carpenter by trade, part of his fundraising efforts include holding the garage sale in the seven-car garage of his One Tree Point home.

He is well-known in the Northland community for his volunteer work. In 2012, he was named a Local Hero as part of the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards.

He has also been named a Knight of the Blind for helping the Royal New Zealand Blind Foundation.

He says the Knight of the Blind was one of the hardest awards he's accepted.

"A 12-year-old blind girl presented the plaque to me and I nearly cracked that night.

"When you have someone who is blind in front of you, reaching out for you with their hands and looking for you, it's very emotional," he said.

He is also a member of the Marsden Lions Club and has 26 years of involvement with the Lions.

- Northern Advocate

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