A man who is remembered by those who knew him as being a people person with a kind heart has left a legacy that the region will benefit from for years to come.
Nelson man Leon Page left his $3.6m estate to Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust and St John Nelson – each charity receiving $1.8m.
Page died just over a year ago and his estate is due to be released to the charities in the coming weeks.
The executor of his will, Craig Morice, says Page recognised the value that both services provided, after spending much of his life farming in Golden Bay.
"He told me when we talked that as an ex Golden Bay farmer he recognised the value of that rescue helicopter to the bay's residents and how many lives that helicopter has saved getting over the Tākaka Hill in a hurry, and also the amazing work that St John do.
"Leon knew that he wanted to leave a substantial sum of money that would make a difference to those two charities."
NMRHT manager Paula Muddle says the bequest was a total surprise.
"One day Leon popped into the hangar, he wanted to borrow a charity box for a rhododendron club fundraiser. He stayed for a cuppa and the crew put him in the helicopter, he ended up staying for about three hours," Muddle said.
She says Page's wish was for the $1.8m to go into the endowment fund which would see the trust get to their $5m in a five-year target.
"Due to loss of funds through cancellations with Covid-19 it's so important to have that nest egg, it will end up being our major funding source."
She says Page wanted the Golden Bay community to be looked after as he knew how important the helicopter service was.
"The crew here very affectionately refer to the Golden Bay trip as 'the milk run' as we seem to be over there every other day."
Mario and Theresa Dellabarca first met Page when he purchased a home from their family in Di Pierri Way in 2001.
Over the 20-year-period Theresa says Page became like a family member, joining them for Christmas, birthdays, and special occasions.
Theresa says it didn't come as a surprise that he had left such a large sum of money to charity.
"He was always very giving, he's done an amazing thing for our community but that's just Leon, he was the person that was always happy to help anybody, he was just always there. In Di Pierri Way, it's just left a big void."
She says she first got to know Page through her dogs.
"We had two boxers and Mario worked away a lot so I always had to walk them one at a time. He said, 'well that's silly, I'll come too and we'll walk them together.
"He was just a really, really kind-hearted guy."
St John general manager community engagement south Craig Stockdale says St John is incredibly grateful to Page for his bequest.
"St John plans to use these funds towards establishing a new ambulance base in Nelson, which is going to greatly benefit both our people and the community in the Tasman area."
Page also left three pieces of art that the charities plan to jointly auction.
One is a signed print of Sir Edmund Hillary called A moment in History.
The artwork will be listed by the charities on Trademe in the coming weeks.