Kelly Scarrow has been in charge of events, marketing and promotions at Mainstreet Whanganui for four years. Now, a new challenge beckons and she takes up a position at Hospice Whanganui next week.
"I'm really excited about the opportunity," she says. "It's such a great organisation. I'm over the moon to be appointed.
"The last four and a half years have been a hell of a ride, and it's hard to say goodbye."
As she puts it, that's five rounds of all the events Mainstreet organised and co-ordinated.
"You build relationships and friendships, and I'll work with lots of those people still, just in a different way."
Kelly has created a strong network through her work in Whanganui, not just at Mainstreet.
"But Mainstreet has enabled me to do things on a grand scale, learn so much, and give back to the community in a fun way. Who else gets to throw a party and 25,000 people come?"
Like many Whanganui people, Kelly has a personal connection with Hospice. They looked after her father 16 years ago, and looked after her at the same time.
"I'll never forget that."
She is looking forward to working with the Hospice team as Fundraising, Marketing and Communications Manager.
"I bring my tribe with me, amazing people who believe in what I believe in. A lot of them are from different sectors of the community … we're going to do something really special together."
Kelly says she'll be creating signature events to raise the profile of Hospice and help them raise funds, in conjunction with the events they already run.
She leaves Mainstreet in good heart.
"This year's Caboodle was the best yet. We took some risks … moving the main stage, stretching out the time frame, being consistent with our themes and using only local acts – it's about showcasing who we have, our talent, our people, our community."
She says supporting local musicians acknowledges the wealth of talent we have in Whanganui. The feedback from the Caboodle sponsors was "phenomenal".
"I'm very proud of when we ran Artists Open Studios and the economic impact it had."
Kelly's previous work at Gonville Library proved she could build a sense of community.
She acknowledged the team that enabled Mainstreet's success, in particular, Geoff Follett, in charge of member liaison and design.
"Geoff, my wing man, my sounding board, one of my best friends now, he's one of our unsung heroes. He has taught me so much, and even though I'm leaving, I know the work will continue in the same heart."
Davene Vroon, Hospice Whanganui Chief Executive says:
"I am delighted to announce that Kelly Scarrow has been appointed as our Fundraising, Marketing and Communications Manager!
Kelly is the marketing and events lead at Mainstreet Whanganui and behind many of the amazing city events like the recent Caboodle/Vintage weekend ... She brings a genuine heart and passion for this community as well as for Hospice. Kelly, among many other achievements, also has a social work background and has been involved in several amazing charities including the Cancer Society and Save the Children over the years.
She spent 7 years at the Gonville Library doing some amazing work there and continues to be involved in many community initiatives around Whanganui, including as a marriage celebrant. Kelly is scheduled to start on 24 March and we're very much looking forward to welcoming her."
Des Warahi, Mainstreet General Manager adds:
"Although the team and I will miss Kelly, we are excited for her as she starts her new position at Hospice Whanganui, we know that Kelly will bring levels of energy and professionalism to the role: Kelly is passionate about working with whanau and communities.
"On behalf of our board, staff and members we wish her and her whanau all the best for the future.
"During Kelly's time at Mainstreet she has working with Geoff Follett as part of our business promotions team and has been the driving force for Mainstreet's key events Caboodle, Fest of Cultures, Heritage Markets, and the Whanganui Christmas Parade, along with a range of business promotional activities that build vibrancy in CBD.
Kelly has always looked at bringing exciting new elements to our events and promotions.
"During the COVID – 19 lockdown in 2020 Kelly rebuilt Mainstreet's website to be more people friendly, led the AROHA LOCAL campaign to encourage locals to buy local in support our businesses during these challenging times.
Kelly has developed and built our social media presences and communication with members and stakeholders.
"At the 2021 Caboodle Kelly led for the first time with the support of several sponsors a wedding ceremony at Majestic Square, brought the main stage into the bottom block of Victoria Ave and led our sponsorship engagement.
"It's been a privilege," says Kelly. "I've learned so much more about my home town since I've worked with Mainstreet."