Industrial hero gets ticket to Games
Contribution to community rewardedCOLLETTE DEVLIN
A Tiwai Point smelter worker will fly to the London 2012 Olympics next month in recognition of his contribution to the community.
Parent company Rio Tinto awarded Tiwai Mechanical tradesperson George Kempton the New Zealand Rio Tinto Heroes Award.
Mr Kempton and 79 Australian finalists will travel on an all-expenses-paid tip to the Olympics next month.
The 61-year-old had previously won the Rio Tinto Bravo award at Tiwai for his role as a mentor to apprentices for more than 35 years and his commitment to Invercargill rowing club for the past 47 years.
He was entered into the trans-Tasman Rito Tinto Bravo awards, which he won, and was then put forward for the Heroes Award.
"I am honoured to win, it is the nicest thing to happen in my life," he said.
He was not used to the attention but appreciated the good wishes everyone was sending him.
"People go out of their way to say 'well done', even when they don't know me, it's nice," he said.
He enjoyed his job and meeting interesting people every day, he said.
Asked about his commitment to the community, he joked that it kept him "young and out of trouble".
He was excited about meeting the other finalists, some of whom he had met when he won his Bravo award in Australia.
The Invercargill father of four and grandfather of three has been overseas only as far as Australia and is looking forward to his trip.
His prize included sightseeing, a gala dinner with the Rio Tinto chief executive and tickets for three days of Olympic events.
An avid rowing fan and longtime club member, he was disappointed that all the rowing events had already been snapped up.
Although slightly disheartened, he did not let it get to him.
He had decided to watch the rowing on a big screen at Hyde Park in London.
"Whatever happens, I won't miss the rowing," he said.
He has invited his good friend Mike Larsen to travel with him as his plus-one to London.
Mr Larsen was one of the first apprentices he mentored in the 1970s.
New Zealand Aluminium Smelters community relations officer Andrea Carson said the Heroes Award was presented to staff members who demonstrated Rio Tinto's values of accountability, respect, teamwork and integrity.
She praised his involvement in the community and his efforts at Tiwai.
"We are absolutely thrilled that George has been recognised, he is a very deserving winner and we are all excited about his trip."
Ms Carson said the award had been given to Mr Kempton because he went above and beyond his duty at work and in the community.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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