Arthur ‘Stalky' Law has faced his fair share of obstacles in the 60 years he has been volunteering.
He tells Lucy Townend about running raffles, helping the blind and how he feels about receiving a civic honour award.
A t 6ft 4in (193cm), you can see why Arthur Law is called Stalky and, at the age of 78, he still presents a foreboding figure, but with a less-than-foreboding personality.
The Dannevirke man is a kind, humble, hard-working character and, last weekend, was given the ultimate recognition by the town he calls home - a civic honour.
Stalky has a list as long as his arm of the organisations he has helped out.
Among them are the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, the Cancer Society of New Zealand and the New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters.
When asked why he does it, his response is simple: Why not?
"It's my duty to assist, like the old Rotary motto, service before self," he says.
"Unfortunately, my wife, Alison, thinks I probably go overboard in doing that and I should be here at home rather than out helping other people, but I have always been that way and probably will always be that way."
The Tararua District Council civic award honours community members and their meritorious service to the district, but Stalky says the recognition came out of the blue.
"I didn't think of anything of the sort would ever occur like this for me.
"I am extremely humbled by the citizens of Tararua who have come forward and nominated me for this award, and I was absolutely blown away when I was rung and asked if I was ready to accept my name being put forward.
"I probably haven't done as much as I would have liked, but I'm always out there helping wherever I can in the community, whatever the organisation."
Despite his modest point of view, he has done his fair share of helping not only in the Tararua, but throughout the wider Manawatu and Hawke's Bay regions.
He was seconded into volunteering when he was involved in Dannevirke's Young Farmers' Club in the 1950s, and hasn't looked back since.
It hasn't been all plain sailing, though. He has overcome hurdles in his life which have helped develop his generous heart.
His late wife, Val, had glaucoma, and his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, was also diagnosed with the disease when she was 10.
Then, in 1985, his 27-year-old son, John, died after a 18-month battle with leukaemia and, in 2002, Val died of liver cancer.
These events, in particular, encouraged him to help those in need, he says.
"I think it's my natural instinct to get in and assist where necessary but, when you have lost two of your own family through cancer and having had a daughter and a late wife who have had an affliction of blindness, it gives purpose.
"But life's never easy. We have obstacles put in our road and we just have to surmount them to get on with it.
"I endeavour to get on with life and do the best that I possibly can in my time that I have left."
He has done everything from running raffles on the slaughter floor when he worked at Oringi Freezing Works to pounding the pavements in Dannevirke shaking buckets.
He helps co-ordinate the Red Puppy Appeal, Blind Week and Daffodil Day in Dannevirke and, in between playing bowls and attending meetings, he is a personal shopper for the blind and partly sighted members of the district, ferrying them around.
The determination and drive to continue his volunteering duties is intrinsic, he says.
"I've always been hard-working. My farming background left me well endowed to start early, get on with the job and make sure that it gets done.
"I care about Tararua, right from Mt Bruce to the south end of the Takapau plains, and if I start something, I'll I make sure I finish it," he says.
After nearly losing his life last year when a clot raced through his heart to his lungs, he says things have changed.
"I've slowed down a bit these days and I'm a bit more bent over than before."
Regardless, the almighty Stalky is still held in high esteem by the organisations he has helped over the years.
"Stalky has been involved as a volunteer with the Foundation of the Blind for 60 years, going out of his way to support members in the Dannevirke and wider Tararua communities during this time," says Alison Marshall, national manager volunteer services for the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.
"He can truly be considered the face of the foundation in these areas.
"We regard Stalky as an outstanding volunteer and someone who is more than deserving of this recognition.
"He truly is someone who has made an immeasurable difference in the lives of so many of our members," she says, "and we are extremely lucky to have had his energy, dedication and involvement over the years."
Born February 3, 1934.
His early years were spent at Mangatoro Primary School, which closed in 1962, and then Dannevirke High School.
He became chairman of the Mangatoro School Reunion Committee in 1980 and a committee member of the Dannevirke High School 75th and 100th jubilee organising committee.
In 1953, he left high school and joined a Young Farmers' Club west of Dannevirke, before forming a new club on the eastern side of town a year later.
He became the local secretary of Federated Farmers a few years later.
In 1961, his father and namesake, Arthur Douglas Law - Palmerston North Boys' High School's first All Black - died and Stalky turned his hand to caring for the family's 80-hectare sheep and beef farm.
In 1985, his son, John, died of cancer and he then sold the family farm and began seasonal work.
In 1998, he landed a job as a slaughter-floor labourer at Oringi Freezing Works, where he worked for 10 years.
While he was at the works, he joined the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind Southern Hawke's Bay and Northern Wairarapa Community Committee. In 1999, he became chairman and instigated a name change to the Tararua Community Committee.
In 2002, the committee's past chairman, Paul Walsh, and Stalky's wife, Val, died of cancer.
The community committee was then put into recess and he joined the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind Palmerston North Community Committee.
In 2005, he was appointed chairman of the community committee, when it was housed in Grey St, and in 2006, shifted the offices to Walding St, where they still operate from today.
In 2008, the community committee was dissolved and he helped set up a support group for the blind.
He remains the Tararua representative and attends monthly meetings.
He has assisted the Royal Foundation of the Blind since 1953 and formally registered as a volunteer with it in 1992.
He is also chaplain, almoner and manager of Rawhiti Lodge, a non-profit organisation involved in supporting charity and community services in Dannevirke, where he still attends bi-monthly meetings.
He has also been a radio hand since 1957 and has risen to the rank of vice-president of the New Zealand Association of Radio Transmitters, a non-profit association of amateur radio operators in New Zealand.
At one stage, he was the editor of the amateur radio movement and for seven years had a Friday night broadcast on the 80-metre frequency band.
He is also president of the Dannevirke Services and Citizens Club, a member of the Rotary Club of Dannevirke, the Dannevirke Probus Club and the Dannevirke Cancer Support Group.
He plays bowls regularly and every year volunteers with his wife, Alison, to put Christmas lights up around town.
To this day, he acts as a personal shopper for blind and partially sighted members in the district, organises drives for socials, represents the Federation of the Blind at various local events and with local businesses.
He is an active fundraiser for this organisation, including co-ordinating Red Puppy Appeal and Blind Week in the district.
He completed military training as an 18-year-old and was presented with his military medals during last Saturday's ceremony.
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