Award recognises family's spirit in face of hardship

MICHELLE SUTTON
Last updated 13:00 20/12/2012
Carter family
COLIN SMITH/Fairfax NZ

HAPPY HOUSEHOLD: Who’s Your Christmas Star recipients, the Carter family of Hope from left, Abby 9, Brett, Mandy and Hamish 11, with their gift hamper.

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Bubbly positivity radiates off Nelson's 2012 Christmas Star winner, despite two members facing years of chronic health battles.

The Carter family, of Hope - parents Mandy and Brett, son Hamish and daughter Abby - were presented yesterday with the Christmas Star award after receiving four nominations - the most out of 50 people nominated for this year's award which recognises outstanding Nelsonians.

It is run by Uniquely Nelson and supported by the Nelson Mail and More FM.

The Carter family's upbeat attitude and warm manner in the face of life-threatening health scares for Abby and Mandy, were among standout attributes their four nominations singled out.

However, it was those frightening challenges which brought out the family's positivity, they told the Nelson Mail, explaining they made sure to enjoy one day at a time because they never knew what was around the corner.

Their health scares started back in 2004 when Abby was a baby. She was diagnosed with the dilapidating condition Renovascular Disease, which causes narrowing or blockage of the renal arteries.

The 9-year-old suffers from hypertension and will need major operations to transplant her arteries as she gets older, but her smiling face and bubbly positivity reflects none of that, Mrs Carter says.

In 2007, just as the family started to manage Abby's health, Mrs Carter was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She beat it and has campaigned to raise awareness and funding for the cancer-fighting drug Herceptin 2. She raised $80,000 for the drug before receiving it.

"We just make it work. The amazing support from our family and friends got us through," Mrs Carter says.

She was in shock after receiving the Christmas Star award.

"I'm overwhelmed, I'm almost embarrassed. There's so many deserving people in Nelson."

Mr Carter says his family's positive philosophy starts with his wife and her upbringing.

"I'm just the background guy, she's the star here," he says proudly.

The four nominations for the Carters, which came from Ranzau School and Ray White Real Estate, where Mrs Carter works, described the family as "selfless and caring", doing a huge amount for the community - Mr Carter coached school rugby while they both helped out at community events and provided transport - despite their own difficulties.

"I feel I have only scratched the surface on what this family does for our community. I don't know the half of it," Ranzau School deputy principal Declan O'Malley says.

The Carters received a Christmas hamper, containing more than $3000 worth of gifts donated by city retailers.

After receiving the gift, the family asked to thank all the people who nominated them.

Uniquely Nelson manager Cathy Madigan says the Carters were clearly deserving, but judging the nominations had been extremely difficult because everyone's contributions deserved to be recognised.

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- The Nelson Mail

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