A Whanganui woman who was in the first intake of girls at Outward Bound has been given an award for her 35 years of service as a volunteer and supporter.
Marg Robinson was given The Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand's Kurt Hahn award at a virtual meeting on November 27.
The trust provides outdoor education courses in the Marlborough Sounds that help people reach their full potential.
The award is for significant and long-term support of the trust and for exemplifying its values of compassion, greatness, responsibility and integrity.
"It's pretty special to me," Robinson said.
In 1973, aged 20, she was one of 11 in the first group of females to take part in a 22-day course that also included males. At the time people said the move would "turn fillies into draughthorses" and attack the last bastion of New Zealand manhood.
"We were watched very carefully," she said.
Robinson wasn't very fit and found the course hard. But the females were treated well and she learned about working in a team and about her own capabilities.
"There's more to you than you think," she said, quoting the Outward Bound motto.
At that time she was just finishing her third year as a draughting cadet with the Ministry of Works, and went on to work for an architect. She returned to Outward Bound for an eight-day adult course in 1984 because she needed "a bit of a boost".
After that she joined Whanganui's Outward Bound committee, helping more than 500 students get onto courses through sponsorship, fundraising and publicity.
In 1992-93, she voluntarily produced a preventive maintenance plan for the trust's buildings, and a landscape plan for its grounds. She was part of a working bee to plant 1200 trees in the landscape plan.
In 1998, the trust's wastewater treatment scheme needed an upgrade, and she held the working bee that created the Margaret Sherriff Wetland - her maiden name.
In 2002, Robinson became a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, nominated for her services to Whanganui. Her Outward Bound working bees became more frequent, with the volunteers mainly the parents of Outward Bound students.
Their camaraderie made them attractive.
"If you hadn't been on a working bee for Outward Bound, you were nobody," she said.
In 2019, the volunteers built a large deck. In March this year, a 10-day working bee rebuilt a kitchen and dining area at Te Kainga, a trust base with no road access.
She said her architectural and landscape design skills meant all the work was done to a high standard.
Robinson would not only be planning the jobs, she would be organising the materials and tools in advance, and enlisting the volunteers.
Her efforts have saved the trust an estimated $400,000, maintenance manager Vic Koller said.
This year Robinson retired from working bees. She is now delving through trust archives to produce a chronology of events ready for its 60th anniversary. She's also one of 10 guardians of its values and ethos.
She hopes telling her story will inspire others to volunteer.
"I want to encourage other people to get into some service."