Community champion recognised for hard work

Mornington Golf Club vice-president Ray Tuffin with Rongotai MP Annette King. King presented Tuffin with the community ...

Mornington Golf Club vice-president Ray Tuffin with Rongotai MP Annette King. King presented Tuffin with the community champion award for April.

Seeing the joy on young people's faces as they participate in sport is reward enough for Ray Tuffin, but he has been officially recognised for his work as a Community Champion.

Rongotai MP Annette King selected Tuffin for the award because of his services to the Mornington Golf Club.

Tuffin, the club vice-president, has worked tirelessly to save the club from disestablishment over the past five years.

He was influential in merging the declining Berhampore Bowling Club and Mornington Golf Club.

"The work Ray did bringing together the clubs revitalised what is a really important community facility," King said.

"It's taken a lot of hard work, commitment and lousy pay, but you need someone who has a vision and the drive to do it, and that's Ray."

He was an example of someone who had gone beyond the call of duty to make a difference in his community, she said.

Tuffin said he was pleased with how the club had developed.

He started a programme teaching golf in schools. 

"I noticed that some boys take over sports and the girls miss out. And kids with special needs are often left out of sports," he said.

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"All they need is to grow in confidence. Once you include them, everyone is on a level playing field."

While reinventing the club, Tuffin noticed a gap in the market - many people with intellectual disabilities didn't have a space in sports groups.

Since then he has worked to make the club a venue for all people.

Bocce, a ball game popular at the Special Olympics, has been included in the club's list of sports and Tuffin coaches golf to people with disabilities on weekends.

He has started the process of getting the carpark resealed to make it better for people in wheelchairs. And he has consulted an architect about renovating the clubrooms to accommodate people with disabilities.

"There's no place in Wellington that is specially for people with disabilities.

"Community centres should be a place where all people can go and relax, play sport and spend time with their kids."

Tuffin was the club president for four years, but stepped down to focus on his disability programme work.

 - The Wellingtonian


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