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Honour a shock for community man

KARINA ABADIA
Last updated 05:00 08/01/2014
Stephen Poole
GIVING BACK: St Heliers man Stephen Poole has been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community in the New Year Honours 2014.

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Helping out in the community comes naturally to Stephen Poole.

"I just like people and I'm very happy to help out. I find most people I know are pretty much the same," he says.

It's because of this selfless attitude that Mr Poole has been awarded the Queen's Service Medal for services to the community.

It's an honour which came as a complete shock to the long-time Auckland East Rotary Club member.

"My first reaction was that there are so many people in the community that should be recognised ahead of me so how did my name come up?"

He wanted to tell his family straight away but was required to keep quiet until it was made official.

The 72-year-old has been a member of Auckland East Rotary Club for 33 years and held the position of president in 1988 and 1989 as well as serving as the assistant Rotary district governor for a year.

The members are a great bunch and together they have achieved so much, he says.

Some of the highlights include organising the charity Wine and Food Festival on Vellenoweth Green four years running in the 1990s and setting up the first Auckland Seafood Festival.

Mr Poole was also involved in erecting the flagpole at the former community police station in St Heliers on the corner of Polygon and St Heliers Bay roads to coincide with the St Heliers centenary celebrations in 1982.

Another long-time Rotary project he has enjoyed is Trees for Survival.

Since the 1970s club members have been assisting Orakei School children to plant tree seedlings on nearby properties affected by erosion.

"I think it teaches children so much about growing things and protecting nature and how important it is for our well-being," the St Heliers resident says.

His involvement in several charitable trusts is another one of his passions.

He became a trustee of Eastern Bays Hospice, known as Dove House, in 1996 and served as chairman of the board for six years.

"The great reward is seeing how people in our community are assisted by the wonderful ways that CEO Janine Ewan and her staff help people through their time of illness.

"We've got over 400 patients a month there now and it's just developed into a huge community organisation that needed to be there sadly.

"The people who go there just can't stop talking about how beneficial it is so it's hugely rewarding for anyone to be involved."

An advocate for drug education, he was also part of the team who established the Stellar Trust in 2008.

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Its aim is to create awareness of the harmful effects of illegal drugs.

Mr Poole is a life-long bays resident and proud of it.

"It's a fabulous community and when you're as old as me you get to know a few people over the years."

- East And Bays Courier

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