A Waikanae woman who has spent years helping Kāpiti residents socialise and minimalise isolation has been recognised in the New Year Honours list.
Alison Vautier has been awarded a Queen's Service Medal for services to the community after founding the Waikanae Cameo Society, serving as president from 1994 until retiring in 2017.
The Cameo Society was established for isolated people to drop in and socialise with light refreshments offered from 10am to 3pm, Monday to Friday.
Alison established the Cameo (Come and Meet Each Other) Society after moving to Waikanae over 50 years ago and seeing how many people were lonely.
"I founded the Waikanae Cameo Society because in the first few months I lived in Waikanae I noted how many people lived alone and were lonely.
"I felt that I could establish a meeting place for people to meet new folk to the area and make them part of the community."
Alison hired premises for a pop-in centre, obtained supplies, found suitable locations, organised leases, maintained a roster of volunteers, engaged in fundraising and organised social activities and regularly organising justice of peace services at the centre.
Within the wider community Alison has been a member of the Country Women's Institute for 53 years, president of Waikanae Probus Club on two occasions, a member of Waikanae Community Health Group and founder of the Friends of the Hospital group in Pahiatua.
Being recognised in the honours list was a surprise.
"I felt surprised several weeks ago when I received a letter from the governor-general to say I had been nominated for a Queen's Service Medal in this year's honours list."
Reminiscing on the opening of Cameo, Alison said, "With the help of a good committee and the support of the Waikanae Community Health Group of which I was a member we were soon on track to open the rooms and it was a fun day with music in the square, lots of visitors and offers of help".
"Everyone needs to have someone to talk to, to share their good news as well as the not so good news.
"Everyone needs to get to know their neighbours because no one knows when they will need a little bit of help."