John Herlihy is the president of the Republic of Whangamomona, but he and his wife Pat are far more than that to the community they live and work in.

According to a nomination form, putting forward the couple for the inaugural Stratford District Council Outstanding Citizen Award they won, "John is our president and he is our rock. He and Pat are a team, you don't get one without the other".

John and Pat are firmly entrenched in the Whangamomona community. Not only is John president of the republic, but he and Pat have also given years of service to the community.

From Pat's dedication to ensuring the popular Whangamomona Christmas Parade is an annual success, to the couple's involvement through the years with Marco School, if something is happening in the township, it is almost guaranteed Pat and John will be involved in some way.

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Both are heavily involved in Whangamomona Republic Day, as well as being organisers of the Whangamomona Shears event each year.

John is also to be seen, and heard, when the Dean Cup is played for, while Pat is involved with the sister cup, the Jean Cup.

Pat is still an active netball player, playing for one of the two Whangamomona netball teams.

"They call me an impact player!"

When not playing, Pat is busy washing the kit for the Dean Cup team and the Whangamomona rugby club, one of the many jobs she takes on to ensure the community keeps on running.

In the past couple of years, the couple have put their energy into fundraising for suicide awareness, having raised nearly $70,000 for the cause.

The cause is close to their hearts. Their youngest son, Michael, died in January 2016.
Since then, the couple, along with Michael's seven siblings, have worked to raise awareness of the subject.

John has talked to groups and individuals about suicide, and the couple have organised shearathons to raise money for the cause.

John says it is vital people talk about suicide and are more open about it than in the past.
"If someone's having trouble, talk to them. Don't leave them alone. Go and fish, play golf, have a beer with them, just talk."

"We're always just a phone call away," Pat says.

Mayor Neil Volzke says John and Pat are the perfect example of the type of person the Stratford District Council Outstanding Citizen Award seeks to acknowledge.

"They are an inspiration to all in the way they have seen a way to take their personal tragedy to help and support others."

The fact the couple have already raised so much money for suicide awareness is incredible, says Neil.

"But so is their tireless dedication to their community over so many years. John and Pat are truly worthy recipients of this award."

WHERE TO GO FOR HELP:

If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider.

However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.

Or if you need to talk to someone else:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7);
Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7);
Youthline: 0800 376 633.
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 (available 24/7)
Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7);
Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7);
Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155;
Samaritans 0800 726 666;
Rural Support Trust: 0800 787 254