Brigaders' efforts rewarded

22:56, Dec 23 2012
Recognition: Blenheim teenagers, Sarah Millar, left, 17, Nathan Cross, 17, and Laura Donnelly, 18, received their Queen’s Award certificates at Government House on December 1. Sarah and Laura are members of the 1st Blenheim Girls’ Brigade while Nathan is a member of 1st Blenheim Boys’ Brigade.

Two years of diligent work paid off for three Blenheim teenagers who were presented with their Queen's Award certificates at Parliament House in Wellington this month.

Laura Donnelly, 18, and Sarah Miller, 17, of the 1st Blenheim Girls Brigade, and Nathan Cross, 17, of 1st Blenheim Boys Brigade, were presented their awards by Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae on December 1.

The three students had to complete various tasks during two years such as volunteering at a community organisation, completing initiative tasks and developing leadership skills.

"The requirements are different for boys and girls," Sarah said. "We had to do six months of volunteering, do two initiative tasks, have two years of company service with brigade and do an assignment - for that I made a dress and a skirt."

She volunteered at Blenheim Playcentre, which has led to her being employed there, while Laura volunteered at Joy Ministries, which works with the disabled. "It was quite challenging but it boosted my confidence a lot," Laura said.

In July, the girls presented a submission on either being for or against the state-owned asset sales to United Future leader Peter Dunn in Wellington.


"That was really nerve-racking," said Sarah, who has been with Girls' Brigade for four years and admits to having had little interest at first.

They were among just seven Girls' Brigade members from around New Zealand to earn their Queen's Award this year, while 21 boys from Boys' Brigade NZ received theirs. Along with the other boys, Nathan had a different route to his award, although they also had to do two years of service.

"We had to develop a skill - I did guitar - and do a residential pro- ject, which meant spending at least a week away from home with people you don't know."

He spent the time at a camp at Lake Rotoiti in the Nelson Lakes National Park with the national leadership development course.

In all, the three teenagers found the road to earning the award very challenging.

"It sometimes seemed like the two years would never end and the goal was so far off, but it is great to finish it now," said Laura, who has been with Girls' Brigade for 14 years and whose mum, Catherine, also has a Queens' Award.

Nathan has been a member since he was a 5-year-old.

The Marlborough Express