Recipient holds kids close to her heart

FAYE LOUGHER
Last updated 12:00 31/12/2013

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A Levin woman with a soft spot for children says she was overwhelmed when she heard she was to receive a Queen's Service Medal for services to philanthropy.

"The amount of work I do is comparatively small really, but I do have a very soft spot for children in particular. Where I see a need to help children, that's what I like to do," said Helen Blake.

Her citation says that Mrs Blake, together with her late husband Collis, established the Levin Adventure Park Charitable Trust in 2001 and personally funded and developed it as a free community space for children and their families. In 2007 the Blakes gifted the park to the Horowhenua community for ongoing development and maintenance.

"We both worked together there [at the adventure park], and since he's gone I've carried on some of his work but taken on a few new things myself," said Mrs Blake.

"Between us we put together a school health clinic at Waiopehu College to help children who had various health problems. We had no idea how it was going to work out and the same with the park. We were absolutely delighted at how that worked out and when Collis got too ill to be actively involved we would go down and just watch the children play and that gave him a lot of pleasure, too."

The Blakes also donated funds and assisted with fundraising for the construction of the Horowhenua Events Centre Trust Complex and sponsored the Horowhenua Community Health Shuttle.

Mrs Blake also helped with fundraising in which Horowhenua raised more than $450,000 towards the construction of the new Ronald McDonald House in Wellington. She sponsored both the Collis Blake Lounge and the Helen Blake ensuite bedroom.

Mrs Blake also likes to help out with Barnardos and the Duffy Books in Homes programme. She says that in day-to-day life, people often don't notice the children who are struggling, deprived of what most would consider the basic essentials, so she does what she can to help them.

"There's a tremendous amount of work to be done and I feel very privileged that I am able to do that. I just help them because I love them; I can't say that I love them individually, but I love the idea that I can help children who possibly don't have that love, don't have the care."

Mrs Blake's most recent project was helping the local Neighbourhood Support group send a bus load of children away for a short holiday.

Mr Blake was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2000 for services to farming and the community, and Mrs Blake said she thought he would have been thrilled with her QSM.

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"We thought alike on these needy children, I suppose you'd call them, so I think he would have been proud."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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