Editorial: Good work recognised

CLAIRE ALLISON
Last updated 05:00 19/05/2014
Jean Dippie
LONG SERVICE: Jean Dippie has been recognised for 42 years of service to the St John Temuka Division.

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OPINION: It wasn't a story about a Queen's Birthday or New Year's honour, but it probably should have been.

Saturday's Timaru Herald featured a story about Temuka woman Jean Dippie receiving an award from St John for 42 years' service.

Forty-two years. That's longer than many marriages last, much longer than most people will stay in a job these days, and it's as long as - give or take a year or so - I've been on this earth.

By anybody's reckoning, it is an impressive record of service, and the recognition received is well deserved.

It's the type of commitment to the community that seems increasingly rare, as we become busy with work and family, and claim lack of time for anything over and above that.

Jean Dippie's story tends to put that kind of excuse in its place. When she began volunteering for St John, she was a busy wife and mother of six children; working with her husband on the farm and trying to get meals on the table around ambulance callouts. She was certainly not a woman at a loose end for something to do.

She had, she says, a very understanding family, saying it was "quite a lot, I was never there for meals".

And when she decided she could no longer continue in the ambulance team, that was by no means the end of her service. Instead, she embarked on further years of service to the area committee, looking after finances, the annual appeal, and is currently the overseer for cadets in Temuka.

This remarkable woman is also involved with the Presbyterian Church, Meals On Wheels, and the Temuka Salvation Army family store.

She is, effectively, carrying out half a dozen people's worth of voluntary work, but says she's the beneficiary - it keeps her young, and she loves getting out and meeting people.

Her story raises a couple of questions. Who is going to carry on this good work when Jean Dippie and others like her can't do it any more? And why aren't more people like her recognised with appropriate honours in those twice-yearly lists, instead of rewarding people for doing the job they've been often already well paid to do?

Recognition and reward aren't, of course, the reasons people like Jean Dippie do the work they do. But it's nice to see it come their way.

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- The Timaru Herald

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