When he first opened the email advising him he had been nominated for a 2022 New Year Honour, Bill Harris wondered if it was for real.
However, the email was legitimate and the Clinton contractor was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community.
“Quite frankly I thought it was another one of those scams I get tangled up [in],” Mr Harris said.
“When I read through all the attachments, I thought maybe it’s not.
“I was a bit surprised, all right.
When the reality sunk in he became quite “emotional”.
“I couldn’t believe someone in the community had obviously put my name up.”
He was not sure who.
“I’ve got my suspicions.”
The 67-year-old grew up in Riverton and moved to Clinton in 1979.
He started a drainage contracting business about three years later.
In 1990 he joined the Clinton Volunteer Fire Brigade and for about 15 years he served as the fire chief.
“It does become addictive once you join.
“It is something you can do for the community.”
A fortnight after joining, he attended a house fire and was amazed how fast a fire could be extinguished if the brigade could arrive quickly at the scene.
He resigned from that position last year but is still a member of the brigade.
While he was fire chief he was on the committee to establish the Clinton First Responders Unit.
Initially a trust was set up in 2008 to manage the unit and pay for the training.
He served as its chairman for 13 years.
Many projects about the town for groups, including the school, golf club, squash club, childcare centre and Clinton Lions Club, have benefited from Mr Harris’ labour and machinery.
There was not much sense in groups spending money on contractors when he could help at no cost, he said.
“They never get a bill for it.
“I just consider it a donation.”
It was part of living in the community where everyone pitched in and helped each other.
“[I] do my bit for everybody else.
“You do treat people the way you would want to be treated.”
One of the biggest projects he had been involved in was providing a loan at a discounted rate to provide a fuel outlet in Clinton, following closure of the garage in 2011.
“That was quite an undertaking.
“Certainly satisfying to get fuel back in the town.”