Every Monday, the Chronicle fires 10 questions at a Whanganui local. This week Logan Tutty talks to Trudy Taylor, "Camp Mum" for the Red Cross Disaster Welfare and Support Team in Whanganui.
How did you first get involved with Red Cross and when?
In 1996 I had a young family and was looking for something to do for myself, I have always been interested in helping people and the Red Cross had an information evening. I remember waiting around for ages after the meeting to get interviewed. From there I started attending the Wednesday night training of the then-called ERU [emergency response unit]; 25 years later I still go to training on a Wednesday night.
Where has working for the Red Cross taken you over the years?
I have travelled to disasters over the years all around New Zealand, but probably the personal growth I have done because of the training and situations I have been in is far greater than the distance I have travelled.
What are some of the most memorable moments from your time with Red Cross so far?
Christchurch earthquakes would have to be one of the most memorable for me - it was the first large scale disaster I went to. Kaikoura earthquake was another defining moment for me, I was the ground operations manager for a week there but man it was hard work. But to be fair the local events is where my heart lies, helping your own community in times of disaster gives you a sense of pride.
How valuable has it been to you and what does it mean to represent the Red Cross?
The Red Cross becomes a way of life, it becomes your Red Cross family. I stand by the Red Cross principles of humanity, impartial, neutral, independent, voluntary, unity, universality. It gives me the ability to help people at sometimes the lowest point in their lives. It is gratifying and sometimes heartbreaking work.
When you were growing up, what did you want to do for job?
Interestingly, I wanted to be a good mum first and foremost, but I also knew I wanted to help people and I enjoyed medical things. I come from a family that was always volunteering to help others, so you could say it's in the blood.
Looking back on earlier years, what advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Be more tolerant of others and always respect their point of view. Everyone sees things differently but that doesn't make it wrong. It is their point of view, embrace the difference.
What are some of your favourite things about Whanganui and what do you love about the place?
Whanganui holds a special place in my heart because I am born and raised here. I'm a Saturday market girl, I just love going to the markets and supporting the locals. I like to attend as many events as possible that this beautiful city puts on. I'm a crafter so looking forward to the artists' open studios. The awa is always special, I enjoy walking along it and sitting by the river and reflecting.
Once the world opens up, where would be the first place you would travel if you could?
Two years ago, we were meant to be going to Alaska and Canada for 30 days but my cancer treatment delayed the trip so we postponed it to 2020. Well that didn't happen did it! So that would be my dream. On saying that, if a Pacific bubble opened up I would happily go back to Samoa, I loved it there.
You're hosting a dinner party and you can invite any three people in history, who are you inviting?
I would invite some of my ancestors, my great-grandfather Carl Rasmussen who migrated from Copenhagen and settled in Wanganui and created Rasmussen's nursery which is where my Dad and Mum took over and where I grew up. My fifth times great-grandfather James "Worser" Heberly who was a whaler and then became Wellington's first harbour master. And my second time great-grandmother Mary Wilkinson who was born in Arrowtown in 1874 and was one of those amazing pioneer women. I am fascinated by their stories and what drove them to New Zealand and the fire within them to keep going through some enormously tough times.
You're cooking the dinner, what are you cooking?
They would all probably turn in their graves but I would do a good Kiwi barbecue, steak medium rare, garlic bread and a host of salads. Not forgetting the homemade pavlova with cream and berries.