Retired pilot Jim Shaw, 90, says keeping busy and active is the key to a happy retirement.
Jim is the latest recipient of the Harcourts Taupō Good Sort award. He was nominated for his current volunteer work providing friendship to an elderly person for St John, as a driver for Meals on Wheels, and in recognition of recent past volunteer roles for the Craters of the Moon Trust and as an RSA visitor.
On Friday last week, Jim accepted the award from Harcourts Taupō co-owner Mary-Louise Johns and mayor David Trewavas, in the company of family members Geoff Shaw and his partner Marina, and Wharerangi Retirement Village friends Leanne Clarry and Kay Ainsworth.
"The Taupō community is richer for having people like you," Mary-Louise says.
Jim spent five years in the Royal New Zealand Air Force and then 40 years flying passenger aircraft around New Zealand. He retired from flying in 1995 and when he turned 90 decided to calculate just how long he spent in the air during his career.
"I spent two and a half years in the air. This means I'm really 87.5 years old, not 90," Jim says.
In 2000, Jim moved to Taupō and for the past six years has lived independently at Wharerangi, a few streets away from the centre of Taupō town. He credits the location of Wharerangi with his ability to have empathy with the community.
"I live so close to town, I can easily come in and connect with people, the footpath is flat and good for mobility and scooters. We're close to doctors and dentists."
He has made friends at Wharerangi, saying they look after each other and are "like one big happy family". His friends also do volunteer work for the community.
His advice for a meaningful retirement is to not get too upset about things, keep busy, but have a balanced life at home and within the community.
"Don't slump in your chair. Get up and do things."
For the past four years Jim has volunteered as a St John Caring Caller, a friendship-based service for people who are alone or feel isolated in the community. He regularly phones an elderly man who lives in Whakatāne and says his role is mainly to listen, while the other man talks.
"He often says to me, 'for a guy that's 90 years old, you've still got all your marbles' and we have a good laugh at that."
Jim is a driver for the Meals on Wheels programme run by the New Zealand Red Cross Taupō branch, a role he has carried out for the past four years.
Previously, he visited two World War II soldiers, but they have since died. He also manned the desk at the Craters of the Moon visitor kiosk.
Jim was thrilled to receive the flowers donated by Bloomin Flowers and admired the gourmet food in the Merchant of Taupō hamper, but in typical Jim fashion says he will give it away.