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Following in his parents footsteps... Southland District Councillor Paul Duffy who received a Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community and local government in the New Years Honours list holds the medal his mother Mary received in 1990 for her volunteer work. PHOTO: SANDY EGGLESTON

Paul Duffy’s children joked he could never say no but in a way Mr Duffy has had the last laugh.

The Edendale man received a Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community and local government in the New Year’s honours list.

As well as being a Southland district councillor for more than 20 years, he has served on more than nine community groups in a volunteer role in the past 50 years.

Mr Duffy said he never planned to spend as many hours volunteering as he had but somehow he became involved in groups.

“If you go to a meeting and aren’t brave enough to say no loudly enough you seem to come home with a job,” Mr Duffy said.

Mr Duffy’s wife, Alison, said the family used to say there was a word in the dictionary their father did not know how to use.

“I used to say here and no-one listens,”‘ Mr Duffy said.

He first started volunteering at 18 when he took on the position of Seaward Downs tennis and badminton clubs’ secretary.

Volunteering seemed a natural path to take given the example of his parents.

“Dad was 22 years on school committees and Mum was always tearing off to some thing and so [I] just carried on from what they did, I suppose,” Mr Duffy said.

“You support what’s in your community.”

His mother, Mary, received a New Zealand 1990 Commemorative Medal for her services to the community.

He was grateful for the recognition but, in many instances, he had been part of a team.

“It wasn’t just me who did the stuff.”

When he became a Community Trust of Southland board member in 1992 he became aware of how many volunteer groups there were in the community.

“It’s that volunteer ethos that’s so important and sometimes people get recognised, but for each one that is recognised there is a whole lot that could have been.”

Being part of the trust also showed him how groups could access funding which had proved helpful in some of the projects he had been part of.

One of the things he is most proud of being part of was the building of the $3.4million Tumu Toka Curioscape Visitor Centre at Curio Bay.

In 2010, he joined the South Catlins Charitable Trust Committee which oversaw that project.

Other positions Mr Duffy has held are Southland Regional Heritage committee chairman, Toitois Tokanui Lions Club member, Invercargill Irish Society chairman, Arts Murihiku chairman and Edendale School and Menzies College board of trustees member.

He is also a Southland Otago Ayrshire Club life member and New Zealand Ayrshire Association honorary life member.