Otaio's Local Hero rewarded

AUDREY MALONE
Last updated 05:00 06/03/2014
Cecilia Sullivan-Grant
AWARD WINNER: New Zealand Local Hero of the Year Cecilia Sullivan-Grant is grateful for her South Canterbury upbringing, which she says shaped the values that led to her award.

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The values instilled growing up on an Otaio farm were what Kiwibank Local Hero of the Year award winner Cecilia Sullivan-Grant credited for her win.

Mrs Sullivan-Grant, 54, is now a business advisor in Dunedin.

She was nominated, unbeknown to her, for her work on the Dunedin mayor's Taskforce, where she increased apprenticeship numbers, and helped severely disabled people in Otago find employment.

"I have been blessed to have worked with people who have some form of challenge. When a person has a challenge in one area, in another area they tend to be quite creative," Mrs Sullivan-Grant said.

For 13 years she has advised and placed people with severe disabilities - or challenges, as she likes to call them - into jobs that are not in the mainstream.

It was something she said she had the temerity to do because she grew up in South Canterbury.

She said her youth was a good training ground for the real world as she had to "roll up her sleeves and get stuck in" instead of focusing on reports and figures.

Another value she gained here came from her father's awareness of his place on the planet.

His awareness that he grew food to feed people resulted in his being a productive member of society. That was a lesson she passed on to people she has worked with.

"I cannot credit South Canterbury enough with my success in life. I live here [Dunedin] but I belong up there [Timaru]."

Although she says she has never had a life plan and still does not know what she wants to do when she grows up, she is enjoying her latest challenge, being a grandmother to a 5-month-old.

"Your heart just explodes to another capacity when you are a grandparent. I highly recommend it," she said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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