Pair hail course as life changing

New goals: Hugh Bason, left, and Matthew Wright said no-one was fat, skinny, black or white on the six-week volunteer course
New goals: Hugh Bason, left, and Matthew Wright said no-one was fat, skinny, black or white on the six-week volunteer course

Two Blenheim men who joined the Limited Service Volunteer training course at Burnham say it was the best thing anyone could do with their lives.

Hugh Bason, 19, and Matthew Wright, 23, both came away from the six-week course with awards and the knowledge they were better people.

Mr Wright said he knew he was not on the right track and had decided to do something about it.

"I was hanging around, smoking drugs, not doing much with my life - just wasting away," he said.

"I knew I was better, so I went and did something that I knew would change it. And it did. It's amazing, the feeling of completion. There's no better feeling."

The boot-camp style training course aims to give young people aged 18 to 25 the life skills and determination to turn their lives around.

For Mr Bason, it was a stepping stone to joining the military.

Although already relatively fit, he was amazed at how much fitter he became.

"The hardest thing was the mental barriers in front of everything," Mr Bason said.

"Some of the runs you'd normally give up, but you would push through it because you had the motivation to keep going.

"By the end you're amazed by how much you can do."

For Mr Wright, learning to deal with conflict among his group was a challenge.

"It's about getting the whole group to be happy," he said.

"You put the problems on the table and you resolve it or come to an agreement. That's how you deal with it; no fisticuffs."

Not smoking for hours also tested him.

"Seven hours without a cigarette," he said. "I did not know I could get that cranky."

He is moving to Christchurch on Sunday to start six months at Placemakers, earning a frame and truss qualification.

"I'm heading towards being a fully qualified carpenter so I can build my own house," he said.

"That was the greatest achievement for me. I did not have a goal. I didn't have an orientation for life. Now I've got drive and something to achieve."

When the course finished on November 24, both men came away with awards. Mr Wright was awarded the platoon choice award while Mr Bason was given the top of the platoon award voted by his leaders.

They gave a talk to clients of Work and Income New Zealand in Blenheim yesterday to share their stories.

Mr Bason said he wanted people to know how much it changed you.

"It's the best thing anyone can do with their lives, to be honest."