We announce today the first of 10 finalists in line to be the Herald New Zealander of the Year. We’ll profile two finalists and their achievements each day until Friday. The overall winner will be announced on Saturday.
For bravery, in going to the aid of a stranger being attacked
On September 23 a routine trip to the supermarket changed mother-of-six Lucy Knight's life forever.
As the 43-year-old walked into Countdown in Northcote with her two youngest children, Max, 2, and Bene, then 4, she saw a teenager trying to steal another woman's handbag.
Ms Knight didn't stop to think about her own safety, she went straight to the woman's aid. As she tried to fend off the teenager he assaulted her and she fell, hitting her head on the concrete and suffering a fractured skull and brain bleed.
She had emergency surgery during which a section of her skull was removed to ease pressure on her brain. The bone was not reinserted until November.
New Zealanders were moved by Ms Knight's Good Samaritan story, and over the next few days, more than $260,000 was donated through a fundraising website to help her and her family.
After she was discharged from Auckland City Hospital, Ms Knight spent several weeks in a brain injury rehabilitation facility before she was allowed to return home to her husband Peter Thomas and their children. On her first day home Ms Knight told the Herald on Sunday that she felt "incredibly lucky".
"It feels like a really huge thing, it really does and it makes us think about everything," said Ms Knight.
She has no memory of the incident that left her fighting for her life. But she was not surprised by her actions.
"I don't like people upsetting other people. And probably being a mum, and my two little guys seeing another older lady being robbed, instinct took over." It upset her to think the boys witnessed her attack but she was grateful to those who cared for them as she lay unconscious on the ground.
She planned to donate a portion of the money raised after the attack to others in need. "I love helping people," said Ms Knight.
She told the Herald she was excited to be home. "The last month has been incredibly challenging and I am relieved that I can now move to the next stage of recovery. Thanks so much to my kids, Peter, my parents, siblings and wider family, and thank you everyone for all the wonderful support and kind messages. I feel so lucky you are all there."
The Herald was inundated with emails from readers who wanted to thank Ms Knight for her bravery and wish her well in her recovery.