Prolific volunteer with a difference

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Young volunteer . . . Alex Parish (20) is studying at the University of Auckland but continues to voluteer in Eastern Southland whenever he is home. PHOTO: KAYLA HODGE

“Something that happens every year, you can count on me to be there.”

It is Alex Parish’s motto for volunteering in the Eastern Southland community and his resume speaks for itself.

He helps with models at the Hokonui Fashion Awards, works behind the scenes at the Gold Guitars, is an usher at the St James Theatre, takes readings at his church, volunteers on Children’s Day, helps at St Peter’s College fairs, referees rugby, umpires hockey and announces at A&P shows throughout Southland and Otago and at Southland showjumping events.

He also served on the Gore District Youth Council for four years. The most impressive part is that Mr Parish does not actually live in the district.

The 20-year-old is completing a health science degree, majoring in paramedicine, in Auckland but whenever he is home he puts his hands up to help out.

“I just have a passion for serving the community,” Mr Parish said.

“Over the years I couldn’t count the hours supporting an organisation, charity or events.

“It gives you the buzz and the warm fuzzy feeling.

“These things don’t happen without them [volunteers] and to see the reactions and smiles, everyone enjoying it, is great.”

His drive for volunteering stemmed from his father, Tony Parish.

“It’s in my nature, I guess Dad does a lot for the community, so like father, like son.”

He was devastated Tussock Country and the Hokonui Fashion Awards had been cancelled but when they returned he would help out.

“It’s really sad that the events are cancelled but it is what it is.

“People don’t recognise the arts and how much they miss it when it’s not here.

“It’s a tradition and embrace it. Gore really punches above its weight.”

He started refereeing rugby and umpiring hockey to support the sports he used to play.

“It’s just giving back to those sports and these games don’t happen without it the game to the community.”

Volunteers were what kept the local community and its events strong, he said.

“There’s a band of volunteers that support everything in Gore and in Auckland [and] other major centres those people are paid.”

While in Auckland he volunteered at Fashion Week and umpired hockey in his spare time.