World Cup volunteers maintain friendship

ANNA FERRICK
Last updated 05:00 26/10/2012
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KENT BLECHYNDEN/Fairfax NZ

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Rugby World Cup volunteers, left to right, Helen Ngataki, Naomi Ratana, Jo MacDonald and Janet Smith appreciate the flash mob shuffle by Hataitai School pupils during the tournament

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For many people, the 2011 Rugby World Cup means memories of winning and hazy memories of that night's celebrations.

But for a group of World Cup volunteers in Wellington, the occasion created enduring friendships. far richer and longer-lasting.

The lower North Island volunteers are holding a reunion tonight so they can celebrate all they achieved and share the stories that came with it.

Robyn Mackay, one of the reunion organisers, says the spirit of the World Cup lives on in the volunteers who made it possible.

"We just want to get together and reminisce, celebrate what we've done. But we also want to raise money for charity, because that's a big part of who we are as volunteers."

A raffle will be held tonight to raise money for the Blood and Leukaemia Foundation in memory of former NZRU chairman Jock Hobbs.

The reunion organisers said a desire to showcase New Zealand inspired them to get involved in the first place.

For Sunita Singh, who had been volunteering as a street collector before the World Cup, the appreciation of tourists and locals alike made the event worth it.

"People were always so happy to see us. They'd come running up and ask for photos. You ended up feeling a bit like a tourist attraction yourself."

Many of the volunteers have kept in close contact.

Stephen Rimene, who was part of the spectator support team, says he now counts many of his fellow volunteers as friends.

"We all made great mates, we swapped numbers and there's a Facebook group for us all to keep in touch.

"Most of my Facebook friends are volunteers."

Ms Mackay says that these days people often can't give money, but they can give their time. "It's so rewarding. By lifting other people's spirits you end up lifting your own, too."

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- The Dominion Post

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