Humble helper rides on
Ninety one-year-old Bill Clarkson is a hero. A Kiwibank Local Hero, in fact, with a medal to prove it.
The retired fireman volunteers for Riding for the Disabled and has done so for 26 years.
When he left the Fire Service a friend encouraged him to join the charity that helps physically challenged individuals ride horses.
"I said not now but then sadly my wife died and I thought, oh well, I have nothing else to do," RDA's oldest volunteer says.
"I didn't know much about horses back then so I started off walking alongside them."
When the group's treasurer stood down Bill filled the role. It's a position he held for 19 years.
"I passed that on two years ago but I still go down and make tea and coffee," he says.
"I love being a part of it. I am so fond of the people there."
Bill says horse riding is a great therapy and the movement of the horse is as near to human walking as possible.
"I've seen some amazing results. The work of Riding for the Disabled achieves the impossible," he says.
The modest medal winner says in comparison with the other recipients his efforts "pale significantly".
RDA committee member Carol Dimery describes Bill as an "interesting old boy".
"There are certainly no flies on him," she says.
Volunteers co-ordinator Peter Scott says Bill comes every Monday and Thursday and has done everything from sidewalking to leading to instructing and treasurer duties.
"Bill has had some ups and downs medically but he takes it on the chin and doesn't make a fuss about it. He thinks he has had a great innings and these other little things are just nuisances.
"They are not going to stop him from what he loves doing - serving as a great volunteer.
"He is extremely popular with the young children because they respect him.
"He is an absolute gentleman, very polite and has a really good sense of humour," Mr Scott says.