Medal a 'cracker'
There is hardly a dull moment for volunteer supreme Eric Bettridge.
The Ruakaka man was named a Local Hero as part of the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards 2012. But he was unable to attend the formal ceremony to receive his medal in Auckland.
The function was just a week before the Child Cancer Foundation's annual appeal and Eric had his hands full organising 80 collectors for the event.
It's work he says keeps him young and happy.
The 80-year-old has spent 26 years volunteering with Marsden Lions, 14 helping out at Camp Quality and 10 volunteering for the Child Cancer Foundation.
He has also been named a Knight of the Blind for helping the Royal NZ Foundation of the Blind.
Eric says it is pleasing to get recognition with the medal.
"I reckon it's cracker! I think it's great, really," he says.
Eric credits his neighbour Yvonne Judge for nominating him for the award.
Yvonne was named a Local Hero last year for her work with secondhand charity shop Scavengers which has made more than $200,000 for the community.
Eric first put his efforts into volunteering when he lost his wife 18 years ago.
"I wanted someone to lean on and I leaned on Lions to start with and I have gone on to the other groups after that.
"I wanted something to help the community but also something to help myself and it's helped me greatly."
He says everyone should have a go at volunteer work too.
Eric and his brother grow native tree seedlings to help pay for his volunteer work and a vehicle to get to volunteer appointments.
He still enjoys volunteering with the Child Cancer Foundation but is unable to continue with Camp Quality or Marsden Lions because of a knee operation. However he still keeps busy.
He recently spent time delivering bicycles to child cancer patients for the Foundation.
A total of 137 local heroes medals was presented in 12 regions around New Zealand. Northlanders recognised are Ruawai's Gordon Murray, Elisabeth Greaves of Warkworth, Darryl Quirk of Dargaville and Kaitaia's Boy Yates.