Countless hours devoted to allowing more than 220 disabled and disadvantaged people to enjoy saltwater activities has earned Bryce Dinneen recognition as the TECT Volunteer of the Year.
Dinneen has been announced as Volunteer of the Year in the TECT Community Awards for his work creating opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people.
The former Tauranga Boys' College student is well known in the region as an inspirational mentor and motivator for disabled people to live a purposeful and fulfilled life.
After suffering a high-level spinal injury in a shallow-diving accident at the age of 29, Dinneen was left with only 4 per cent function.
During his rehabilitation, he thought he might never enjoy fishing again - one of his lifelong passions.
He established Wish 4 Fish, a charity that organises fishing trips for people with a physical or mental disability, illness or financial hardship.
Since 2011, Wish 4 Fish has taken more than 220 people out to enjoy saltwater activities in the region.
Dinneen dedicated countless hours each week to running the charity with the support of trustees, committee members and volunteers.
His next big dream was to build a purpose-designed vessel to provide all New Zealanders with the opportunity to experience the joys of the ocean, which is soon to become a reality.
After years of work and fundraising, the 18-metre wheelchair-accessible vessel is currently under construction, with plans for its first trip to take place in time for the America's Cup in March 2021.
Dinneen said the award is recognition of what can be achieved and the life-changing impact you can have by giving back.
He thanked his family and friends, who he said provided the backbone for the Wish for Fish Charitable Trust. He also thanked TECT and the judges for the award and acknowledgment.
"For me, while life is a little more challenging than most, I do what I do to prove that anything is possible.
"If you have a dream and a vision, a plan and goal, it can come to fruition.
"Fishing and boating are some of New Zealand's most popular recreational activities, and those with physical and mental disabilities are currently not being catered for to enjoy these."
The benefits went beyond a day out on the water, he said, helping create camaraderie, excitement and a sense of normality.
TECT Community Awards judge Carlo Ellis said learning about the work of the nominees and finalists was inspirational.
"We have so many amazing volunteers in our region, and that was clear to see in the overwhelming number of nominations we received in this category.
"Congratulations to Bryce on the win – it is truly well deserved. He is a shining example to us all to never give up, and to strive to make the world a better place."
The other finalists recognised in the Volunteer of the Year category included Brett Williamson, Elise Rohde, Lex Spencer, Sam Fellow and Trevor Clist.
The TECT Community Awards are now in their final week, with the winner of the Lifetime Service Award to be announced on Monday.
TECT Community Awards categories
Event Excellence - won by STEMFest
Sustainable Future - won by Good Neighbour
Diversity and Inclusion - won by The Search Party Charitable Trust
Rising Star - won by RRR – Rescue, Revive, Rehome
Youth Spirit - won by James Power
Volunteer of the Year - won by Bryce Dinneen
Lifetime Service - to be announced on Monday, August 3