Awards surprise community heroes

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 05:00 20/04/2014

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Two unsung heroes who have helped spearhead charitable projects have been presented with Blenheim Rotary's highest honour.

Ross Anderson and Noel Herd received the Paul Harris Fellowship at a ceremony on Monday night. The Blenheim men were recognised for exemplary humanitarian service and volunteering in the community.

Anderson has been an important lynchpin in the $5 million fundraising drive for Blenheim's new theatre, while Herd, a rotarian of 19 years, has given his time to run free craft jewellery classes. Anderson is only the second non-rotarian to receive the fellowship.

"I thought I was going to a wine tasting," Anderson laughs. "When I walked in and couldn't find any wine I knew there was something wrong. When my name was called out I was blown away. It is a huge honour."

As well as his theatre fundraising, Anderson has also worked with the Marlborough Hospital Equipment Trust to fundraise for a new hospital scanner.

One of his proudest projects has been sponsoring a school in Fiji and he has shipped out books for the school library and sent truck loads of school equipment.

"The kids were literally sitting on apple boxes. After we donated, the headmaster said the school furniture was better than what was in the University of South Pacific."

Anderson inherited his charitable streak from his father, he said. "My father was involved in the Lions and he was always pretty generous with his time for the community. It has rubbed off on me. I get a lot of pleasure from being able to help those less fortunate. I don't do it for the prize but the honour is incredible."

His first charitable mission was 30 years ago when he sailed the world's smallest yacht across the Cook Strait. Anderson has even embarked on the wacky, auctioning off a vasectomy to raise money for the Marlborough Hospital Equipment Trust.

Rotarian Herd is a retired manufacturing jeweller who has run free craft jewellery classes to the public for five years.

"I didn't know anything about the award, it was quite a shock," Herd said. "I was embarrassed."

Herd became a jeweller at the age of 15. He has rejuvenated second-hand jewellery which is sold at the Marlborough Hospice shop.

He has been heavily involved in Rotary's weekly garage sale which raises money for charitable projects, to fundraising for Riding for the Disabled. He has acted as host for overseas students studying at Marlborough Girls' College.

Herd said Marlborough's public were the real heroes. "The generosity of the community in Marlborough is unbelievable."

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- The Marlborough Express

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