23 July 2013
Gore District Community Awards night a success
A couple who has given hundreds of children a home and support when they have needed it the most were presented with the Gore District Council’s highest accolade at this year’s Gore District Community Awards.
Graeme and Polly Townsend, a couple well known for their unselfish commitment as caregivers for Child, Youth and Family for over 25 years, as well as their skills on the sports field, have been presented with the Gore District Civic Award.
The presentation was made at the annual Gore District Community Awards gala dinner. This unique event celebrates the achievements and contribution to the community of the District’s young and old. This year there were 40 nominees across seven categories.
Couple have hearts of gold
Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks described Graeme and Polly as high achievers with hearts of gold.
“They have had a real community focus over the years, whether it was as coaches of life skills to the many children who have stayed on their Mountain Road farm, or as coaches on the sideline of the tennis court or rugby field.”
As the prime caregiver, Polly is regarded highly by the social workers and staff at Child, Youth and Family, Mr Hicks said.
“Her old fashioned grandmotherly style is very reassuring to children living away from their family and is often an experience they have never had before.”
Support and guidance for other caregivers in the area is another facet of the Townsend style, which is much appreciated by those at the coal face, Mr Hicks said.
Apart from family and providing a safe haven for children in need, the other passion in the couple’s life has been sport.
A rugby representative during the 1960s, Mr Townsend played 80 games for Southland. He also represented Southland at tennis and was a player and administrator for many years for the Gore tennis club and Eastern tennis.
Mrs Townsend has played representative tennis and hockey, featuring in a number of Eastern women’s K Cup hockey teams.
This year’s other award winners were:
J D Souness Young Achiever of the Year
Winner – Vanessa Harvey
Contribution to Arts and Culture
Winner – Verona Favel
Hovell Environmental Planning Contribution to the Environment
Winner – Jamie Mackay
Runner-Up – Mainland Minerals
Gore Musical Theatre Emerging Performing Artist Award
Winner – Jenny Mitchell
Soroptimist International of Gore Woman of the Year
Winner – Debbie Schriek
ANZ Eastern Southland Junior Sportsperson of the Year
Winner – Mitchell Newton
Runner-up – Sean Pay
Newslink-Southland Times-Eastern Southland Chamber of Commerce Customer Service Award
Winner – SBS St James Theatre
Runner-up – Advance Agriculture
Public vote winner – Heartland Hotel, Croydon