Gay Andrews says the key to being a volunteer is a willingness to give up your time.
And she's given more than most.
For 25 years Mrs Andrews has been an important force in St John activities in the Mokau area.
And as area executive officer, she's seen an upgrade of ambulances, a struggle to recruit volunteers, and more recently, a big fundraising drive for new premises.
But that may all be trumped by the honour she will receive next year. The time she has given has been recognised by her naming as a Member of the Order of St John for 2011.
It is an honour that clearly sits uncomfortably on her modest shoulders.
"At the end of the day you can't be there by yourself. The whole committee and ambulance side of it, you have to have the community behind you and we do here," she said. "It doesn't have to be a lot of time, but if everybody gives a little bit it makes it easier for all."
Mrs Andrews' involvement with St John began when she was asked to be secretary.
"The kids had gone off to boarding school so I thought 'Oh well I can get on to a new committee' so I did and I've been there ever since."
While her work with St John is close to her heart she has also contributed her time to work for many local initiatives, including as a member of the Clifton Community Board, a term as a New Plymouth District councillor, and working hard to get the Waitara Health Centre over the line.
She fits that around farming her sheep and beef farm in Ahititi with her husband.
But lately, things have been heating up with St John as they fundraise for a new building.
The slightly rickety present building, which has some decent growth in the spouting, will be replaced by a purpose-built facility on new land, which will also house a district nurse and other emergency services.
It will be an important step for a service covering a massive area - there are about 180 kilometres between Piopio and New Plymouth and Mokau is the only ambulance service in between.
"It's satisfying to see Mokau maintain an ambulance service because it's pretty important for a small community."
As for her honour, Mrs Andrews will receive it from the governor-general during a ceremony in Auckland next June.
One thing she will be needing is a new dress. "It's quite exciting. It's a chance to get all dressed up."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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