Focussing on youth

When life feels good it is easy to overlook others' needs and forget some might need a helping hand.

Helping Marlborough youth is a focus for Spring Creek Lions and it is sponsoring a seminar in Blenheim on Thursday, Safeguarding Children & Young People.

Everyone interested in improving life for Marlborough youth is invited, says Spring Creek Lions treasurer Jon Moore.

When a similar seminar was held in Nelson, Spring Creek Lions and Blenheim Lions offered to sponsor one in Marlborough.

Attendance is free and topics to be discussed include: recognising signs of abuse and neglect, child protection policies, and internet health and safety.

Jon says the latter topic affects nearly everyone. As news reports of cyberbullying and misuse of the internet increase, children with ready access to smartphones are clearly vulnerable.His children are adults now but he likes the Spring Creek Lions' emphasis on helping youth. 

He joined the group 10 years ago when he moved to Marlborough with his wife Bev. Becoming a Lion seemed a good way of putting something back into the community. 

''I like what Lions do and their community involvement and responsibility.''

It is a commitment taken amid fellowship and fun, as evident in the annual Stars in Your Eyes that Spring Creek Lions runs. 

The talent show gives people in the community a chance to re-enact famous performers on stage before a live audience. 

All proceeds are channelled back into the community, helping Marlborough youth.

Some of the $14,000 net raised by this year's Stars in Your Eyes is being used for Thursday's seminar. Other money will find its way to organisations such as the Synergy Youth mentoring programme, a high school hardship fund and the Southern Regional Health School.

Cultural and sporting events for youth are supported, too.''It's a hands-up, not a hand-out,'' Jon says.

Born in Canterbury, he moved to the West Coast after graduating from university to start his veterinary career.

He didn't intend being there for a long time, but then he met Bev, ''a Coaster'', and Greymouth was home for the next 23 years.

When the couple moved to Marlborough, they bought some  bare land at Rapaura and planted it in grapes.

Jon now divides his time between tending the small vineyard and working as an ''initial investigation vet'' for Biosecurity New Zealand. 

He and a second vet look after the upper South Island and must respond to any sign of an exotic disease incursion within five hours  of the first report.

The consequences would be disastrous if something like foot and mouth disease occurred in New Zealand and could not be controlled, Jon says. 

In 2001 he went to Britain to help fight the disease when foot and mouth swept across the British countryside.

''You need to have something in place quickly to retain it.''

New Zealand must retain the good farming practices it has become renowned for.

''It's our efficiency which has got us to where we are now.''

Asked how efficient he thinks New Zealand is at sustaining a good life for its youth, he breathes a long ''Haaaa,'' sigh then says ''We can never sit still. We have to keep one step ahead; there's always room for improvement. 

''We need to do the best we can and sometimes we need to do better.''

Safeguarding Children & Young People runs from 4.30pm to 9pm on Thursday at the Elim Centre, 26 Burleigh Rd, Blenheim.

Entry is free but registrations are requested on line at or by phoning 03 546 8155.

The Marlborough Express