Kiwibank Local Heroes: Cathy Howell

Wellington bus driver Cathy Howell is also a veteran actor in the community. Here she drives the bus in her Little Women ...
CAITLIN SALTER/FAIRFAX NZ

Wellington bus driver Cathy Howell is also a veteran actor in the community. Here she drives the bus in her Little Women costume.

Known as "Ma" by all her kid's friends, Cathy Howell has been driving her number 14 bus through the streets of Wellington for the last six years.

She is treasured by her passengers, all of who agree that Howell goes above and beyond just driving the bus.

She has been known to show extra support to her elderly passengers, often helping them in her time off with gardening, cleaning or just keeping them company.

Wellington bus driver Cathy Howell, centre, won a 2016 Kiwibank Local Hero award.
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Wellington bus driver Cathy Howell, centre, won a 2016 Kiwibank Local Hero award.

When she's not behind the wheel, Howell is a veteran actor in the community theatre scene, performing with Wellington Repertory Theatre for the last 30 years.

READ MORE:
*Kiwibank Local Heroes: Marianne Elliott
*Kiwibank Local Heroes: Josh Robertson
*Kiwibank Local Heroes: Justine Fleming

She also volunteers at St Anne's church in Newtown, where she has retiled the church path, volunteered for the choir and vacuums the church weekly.

What I do is ...

Drive buses around the beautiful, diverse Wellington scenery, working at Go Wellington within a 320 strong team of Bus Drivers who make me laugh every day. I take my passengers to and from work and after five and a half years doing nearly the same route I have a large, lovely group of regulars who I have come to call friends. Some people might call this work, but I love it!

I got involved in what I do because ...

At the age of 57 I was looking for a new career opportunity. I have had a variety of jobs and occupations including teaching and hospitality. When I applied, at the time the company was looking for more lady drivers and people with a hospitality background, so I guess I could tick these boxes. I have always loved a challenge and I really enjoy driving.

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My reaction to being a Wellington Local Hero was ...

Complete disbelief! My family knew about the nomination and selection long before I did, so when I received a phone call confirming the venue I believed it to be a prank call.

The most rewarding part is ...

Meeting the people, helping them and trying to make a positive difference to their day. I believe that everyone deserves respect. Sometimes there are passengers whose only contact with another person is on the bus. I enjoy the interaction just as much as they do.

The highlight of 2016 was ...

There were many and being chosen as a Local Hero was one of them – to think that someone like me could win such an award, I felt very humble and glad at the same time.

The lowlight was ...

For me personally it was a great year; I try to take every day as it comes and be grateful for what I have.

My perfect holiday is ...

In October I went with my newly wedded husband and brothers and sisters to Los Angeles for my brother's 60th Birthday, his wedding and christening of his baby! We had a wonderful time. I am the eldest of nine and it is hard for us all to get together because we live in different parts of the world, so we just enjoyed hanging out, dining and taking in all the sights. We went on a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon, went to fabulous plastic Vegas and I went on all the rides in Universal Studios (Driving buses around places like Roseneath and Southgate must have toughened me up!)

But in reality I'll be ...

Usually cooking and/or enjoying dinner with my family, not really sure if we can sprawl outside or not because of the unpredictable weather here in Wellington. It was sunny and hot in L.A. every day we were there even though it was officially autumn. But thinking about it I actually like the variety of weather we have here.

Wellington's best spot is ...

Oriental Bay. I love the way there is more sand there now, the walkways and the Norfolk Pines that have lights on them all year round. The fountain, the cafes and the way people flock there at the first sign of sunshine.

If I could meet one Wellingtonian for coffee it would be ...

Helen Kelly because she deserves to be the New Zealander of the Year for her strength and courage and for what she has done in her short life to help others.

In 2017 I'm most looking forward to ...

Trying new things, taking on more challenges, being in lots of theatrical productions, having lots of fun and being the best person I can be.

 - Stuff

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