Volunteer delivering childhood promise

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A promise he made as a 7-year-old has had a long-reaching effect in the life of Gore resident Graham Clayton.

As part of National Volunteering Week, at a morning tea on Monday hosted by Clutha Southland MP Hamish Walker to recognise volunteers, Mr Clayton received a bottle of wine for being the volunteer who was the member of the most groups.

Eastern Southland Grey Power, Hokonui Focus, Gore and Districts Senior Citizens, and the Waikaka Freemason Lodge are four groups of which he is a member.

He is also a Justice of the Peace.

Mr Clayton said when he was a boy he joined the cubs.

“I remember making that promise to serve king and country and to help somebody every day.

“I’ve tried to keep true to that,” Mr Clayton said.

He had found it “quite easy” to help someone every day.

It was as simple as doing something for someone at home.

“In a family situation, cooking tea or making somebody a cup of tea for breakfast – it’s still helping.

“You don’t have to go out and dig somebody’s garden or rake up the leaves.

“It’s little things helping somebody.”

Mr Clayton grew up in England and joined the Royal Air Force when he left school.

When he was posted to Australia, he liked it so much that, when his time in the air force was finished, he and his family immigrated to Australia where he worked in the prison service.

“I’ve served the Crown in three countries for 47 years.”

Four years ago, he and his second wife, Glenys, moved to Gore to be near Mrs Clayton’s children who live in Southland.

“We didn’t know a soul.”

started to join different groups.

“We didn’t want to be strangers in the town and so we went and joined as many clubs and associations as we could find.”

Volunteering was very rewarding.

It was a case of “meeting people, helping people and being true to my promise to myself,” Mr Clayton said.