Rotorua volunteers prepare for national showcase

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Blair Gilbert and Phillip Muldoon have just one week to go before they represent the Rotorua Lakes District volunteer community next week in Dunedin.

With the 2015 Trustpower National Community Awards about to kick off in the South Island, the Youth in Emergency Services representatives are confident the organisation's efforts will grab attention.

Mr Gilbert and Mr Muldoon will be taking the Rotorua Youth in Emergency Services branch head to head with the country's best and brightest voluntary groups and organisations on a national stage of friendly competition, where they'll showcase a model of volunteers succeeding at youth engagement. Mayor Steve Chadwick will also attend and support the Rotorua Lakes team.

The 2015 Trustpower National Community Awards will be held in Dunedin City this weekend.

The competition brings together 25 groups from across 27 New Zealand districts and the Wellington region - all are Supreme Winners of last year's Trustpower Community Awards, a programme run in partnership with local councils across the country.

The Rotorua Youth in Emergency Services came out on top at the Trustpower Rotorua Lakes District Community Awards last year, beating out 43 other local voluntary organisations for their efforts to increase youth representation in emergency services and, by proxy, community involvement.

Trustpower community relations representative Emily Beaton said recipe for the group's success laid in sharing responsibility with youth.

"Youth in Emergency Services has such a well-proven model.

Blair and Phillip are great representatives to share that with a collection of New Zealand's top volunteers this week.

"Getting our young people back into communities is what New Zealand's volunteer sector desperately needs - and encouraging them into assisting emergency services gives those youth, the teams they work with and communities who need them a concrete future," she said.

"This is going to be their strength on Saturday."

Joining the Rotorua Lakes contingent at the National Awards will be a host of similarly dedicated volunteers representing districts from the Far North, right down to Stewart Island in Southland.

In between a weekend of sight-seeing and networking, Mr Gilbert and Mr Muldoon will give an eight minute presentation on what the group has achieved and try to convince a panel of independent judges they deserve the title of 2015's Trustpower National Community Award Supreme Winner.

The groups will be judged on their presentations, along with a 1000 word summary of the organisation.

This year on the judging panel the Trustpower community relations team will be hosting TVNZ's Good Sorts presenter Haydn Jones and Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Jo Goodhew along with several other community and Trustpower representatives.

Presentations will take place over most of Saturday at the historic Otago Boys' High School, with an awards dinner to announce award recipients that evening at the Dunedin Town Hall.

The Trustpower National Community Awards Supreme Winner will take home a custom-made trophy, $4000 in prize money, a framed certificate and a $1000 Exult volunteer sector consultancy voucher. The Runner Up will receive $2500 in prize money, a $500 Exult voucher and a framed certificate.

"Whether or not this group takes home a prize, the Rotorua Youth in Emergency Services have already achieved so much. The weekend is about more than placing and what they have already built for Rotorua is what's really important," Miss Beaton said.

Meanwhile, entries are now being taken for the 2016 Trustpower Rotorua Lakes District Community Awards. Anyone can enter a group into the running and any groups or organisations with a volunteer component are eligible for entry. Entries close April 15.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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