Newsmaker: Ken Thompson

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Ken Thompson
Ken Thompson

This week's newsmaker is Ken Thompson, the business development manager for Gilmours. He organised the Grand Shave Off at the Gilmours trade fair on Monday afternoon where 15 local people had their heads shaved to raise funds for the Rotorua CanTeen office.

Tell us about yourself.

I have a background in hospitality teaching with some years in the financial sector as well. Our family is split between Europe and New Zealand, my interests are mainly spending time, when work allows, with family, cooking, helping out CanTeen, and supporting the work that Rotary do with our youth, and generally enjoying life with my wife Lesley at home.

What do you do?

I work with the business development and sales team at Gilmours. My job is supporting the thousands of customers we have in the food and beverage industry, from Taupo to Gisborne, Whakatane and Opotiki and all the local areas in and around Rotorua.

You organised the Grand Shave Off on Monday? Why?

There aren't many people who haven't been touched by cancer, even from a distance. I am one of those people.

I looked at Rotorua CanTeen newly established here in July, and decided I wanted to help. I believe we should all help the community in some way.

I chose to try and raise funds for the Rotorua district of CanTeen through the Grand Shave Off, as we progressed, it became obvious I might be involved again in the future, so watch this space.

Was there a good response from the business community?

Support from the business community was strong ... but it was amazing how many ordinary people in the community felt strongly about supporting the cause, every donation, large or small, is essential to the ongoing work undertaken by CanTeen.

They are and always will be gratefully received.

Were you surprised by the number of shavees? And who volunteered?

Very surprised, it started with one or two, but as I mentioned what I was proposing more came forward.

I am very proud of everyone who took part, they are the unsung heroes really.

Especially the ladies, it takes courage in the first place, but for the three ladies with long hair, wow what a sacrifice for the cause. They are all wonderful caring people!

How much money was raised for CanTeen on Monday?

We believe we are close to $6500 - we have to get all the pledges in and need everyone to honour them.

How will the money be spent?

Going forward, this will enable Emma in the CanTeen office to support the young people who are affected by cancer and also their siblings and family if needed.

There are close to 60 young people in the Rotorua district who need support in many ways. Just ask yourself, if it were my child and family would I be able to cope? CanTeen can help in so many ways.

Is there still time for late donations or community involvement?

Yes, donations can be made through our website www.grandshaveoff.co.nz just hit the donate button and the 'how to' will appear.

If anyone else would like to support us in any way, please contact me through the CanTeen office in the Youth Centre, opposite Countdown on Te Ngae Rd.

Was there a highlight for you on Monday?

I think the atmosphere and support from everyone who was there was amazing, but to have another three people volunteer on the day to raise funds and step forward to lose their hair, that was a highlight, especially as two were ladies who joined Jasmine, our lady shaver.

Thank you so much for that.

Tell us something about yourself most people would not know?

In my younger days, I spent time in the Middle East and saw people living in extreme poverty. From that day on it made me value everything I have so much more.

- ROTORUA DAILY POST

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