Twenty years ago businessman Graham Meads organised Inglewood's successful opposition to a BP garage being built on the town's railway reserve.
Now he has been recognised for his contribution to grassroots democracy for 20 years, with his continuous service on the Inglewood Community Board.
"I only came on over one issue," Mr Meads said. "We just didn't want the development on railway land and the council of the time had to back down in the end."
Now retired and of an age he cares not to reveal, Mr Meads came to Inglewood as a 21-year-old and bought Inglewood Radio and TV.
After years fixing the town's TVs and radios, Meads was convinced by Inglewood mayor Bob Brown that it was time for him to stand for the board.
Despite his wife attending yesterday's meeting and asking him how to work his camera, Mr Meads was thoroughly surprised when presented with a service certificate by New Plymouth mayor Harry Duynhoven.
"I just don't know how on earth my wife kept from telling me," he marvelled.
By the time he retires from the board next year Mr Meads will have served 21 years, one term short of chairwoman Jean Pierce, who after 24 years is also stepping down.
"If I stuck around for another year I didn't think I would get a gold watch so what is the point of hanging around," Mrs Pierce said yesterday.
Both senior members of the board stood in the last election only after last-minute coaxing by district councillor Marie Pearce.
"Half an hour before the election cutoff I was getting Graham off the computer and Jean out of the baking shed. I said, ‘come on, we have got a board'," Ms Pearce said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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