Stratford's "sponge queen" Hilary Jane is one of this year's recipients of a Stratford District Council Citizens Award.
Many people in the Stratford district have been treated to a freshly baked, light as air sponge cake from Hilary over the years, one of the many ways she brings joy to the people in her community.
"I like making people feel happy, and bringing them a cake is one way to do that."
Hilary moved to the district when she was 10 years old, and since then has spent much of her life making the people around her smile. From teaching Sunday school at Toko and Whangamomona, to volunteering her time to a wide range of clubs and committees, Hilary is always busy doing something for others.
She is well known for her sponge cakes, but baking isn't her only talent. She is equally well known in the district for her writing skills, with 10 books written on a range of subjects. She has produced books for the Stratford Hockey Centennial, the Stratford A&P Centennial and the Pembroke School and District Jubilee as well as family history and recipe books.
Those recipe books, Culinary Classics and Culinary Favourites, grew from a popular column Hilary wrote for the Stratford Press. The columns and the books focused on the local people and stories behind the recipes.
Over the years, Hilary has become adept at interviewing people for her books, and says it is something she really enjoys.
"It's always an honour talking to people. I have the highest of respect for our older generation. They are really special."
Hilary is also well known for her commitment to the Taranaki Ayrshire club, of which she is a life member. As publicity officer for the club she often submits articles to the Stratford Press, promoting the breed and members.
Her work in promoting the breed has been recognised nationally, and she has been awarded the Kiteroa Trophy for her contribution in this area twice over the years.
From cakes to cattle, Hilary gives her all to everything she is involved with, but is incredibly modest about her contribution to the community.
"It costs nothing to make someone smile."