There was a real boost to health services in the Central Taranaki area when St John opened its brand new, four bay ambulance building in Stratford this month.
This will provide confidence and certainty around the ongoing provision of ambulance services in the area and strengthen the support for other ambulance services based around the perimeter of the region. Congratulations to everyone involved with this outstanding project.
The volunteers within St John will also benefit from the new building with quality training facilities available for the local cadets and senior members. St John provides a really important opportunity for young people to get involved with community service and learn the highly valuable, lifelong skills of first aid.
As an aside, unfortunately, I was unable to attend the official opening ceremony as I had been suffering from an acute episode of laryngitis which resulted in me losing my voice. It took no time at all to be reminded that some people would see that as a good thing!
My symptoms also led to having a pre-cautionary Covid-19 test, an experience I would describe as a little unpleasant but not painful. This provided me personally with a timely reminder about the need to continue to use the Covid-19 tracer app.
Figures released recently showed that as a country we are becoming very complacent about using the tracer app and forgetting that it is still the key part of the safety net should another community outbreak of Covid-19 occur.
Returning to the St John story, it reminded me again of the value that volunteers bring to a community and the Stratford District is wealthy in that respect.
Like most small communities we sometimes struggle to fill the gaps in the volunteers' roles of clubs and organisations, but most often we do manage and people put their hands up and do a great job. Not all are high profile positions and many require a significant sacrifice of personal time.
For example, volunteers staff service organisations like the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Hospice Shop, the Kings Theatre and shop is run by volunteers keen on keeping this facility operating, while the local Justice of the Peace service is an essential service in our community that Stratford is well served by.
I wonder what the community would look like without volunteer input. The dollar value and social benefits derived from their work must be huge. Imagine if we didn't have these community-minded people, who would do their work and who would pay for it? I suspect we would all be notably worse off.
At the council we have just opened the nominations for this year's Citizens Awards. This is an annual event that acknowledges people who have made significant contributions to clubs and organisations in the community.
The awards have been running for around 30 years now and over one hundred local people have been recognised for their service. Nomination forms are available on the council's website and from the council office.
If your club or organisation has someone you think is worthy of a community award, please don't hesitate to put their name forward for consideration.