Woman of many talents

Honoured. . . Former Gore woman Kate Leebody who now lives in Dunedin holds the books she wrote to cheer people up in lockdown. Ms Leebody has been recognised with a Queens Ser vice Medal for services to netball and the community in the Queen's Birth day and Platinum Jubilee Honours List.PHOTO: ROBYN YOUNG

The official list of Kate Leebody’s community involvement does not include the books she wrote in lockdown.

However, writing the books has been just as rewarding as her other contributions to the community, Ms Leebody says.

The former Gore teacher been recognised with a Queen’s Service Medal for services to netball and the community in the Queen’s Birthday and Platinum Jubilee Honours List.

Ms Leebody said her foray into writing started during the first lockdown when she found a pile of stones her grandson, Benji, then 2, had left at her house.

When she dropped the stones outside she noticed the way they landed looked like the shape of a woman.

She took a photograph of the stones and added it to her social networking page with a pithy saying beside it.

What started off as a joke became very popular with her friends and family and she was encouraged to continue.

“Every day I had to think of a new picture.”

However, it was good to have a project during lockdown.

“You have to have something to¬† do.”

She was not known for her art work, so she was surprised as anyone with her efforts.

“I was very pleased they gave pleasure to so many people.”

After lockdown her friend Wendy Barron arranged for a book to be published and Gore artist Joanne Borgman helped with the layout.

When the second lockdown came around people contacted her and asked for more posts, and material for a second book was created.

The proceeds from the books went to charity.

The QSM citation acknowledged the more than 50 years Ms Leebody had dedicated to education and the community.

After graduating from Christchurch Teachers College in 1966 she taught for a year, then took a position in Niue.

On her return to New Zealand a year later, she joined the staff at Gore High School from 1969 to 1978, then worked at St Peters College , where she taught until she retired to Dunedin in 2014.

She led the team which set up the Hokonui Tertiary High School, working with the Southern Institute of Technology’s Gore Campus and Telford, then a division of Lincoln University.

“There is so much value in vocational education.”

Her many years of netball service included playing, coaching and administration at many levels of the game.

“Netball has been quite a big part of my life.

“I coached Reinga Bloxham who is now the Steel coach.

“I think she was only 15 or 16 at the time.”

The advent of professional netball in 1998 was an exciting time, she said.

The Southern Sting franchise was based in Invercargill and Ms Leebody was chairwoman of its governing board.

The team won the national league seven times during the 10 years the competition was held.

“That was a highlight in Southland – it wasn’t a highlight just for me.

“There was huge excitement that we had a successful team.”

She was a people person, she said.

She had also served on the Mataura Licensing Trust Board and was a Justice of the Peace.

She was grateful to receive the QSM.

“It was lovely to be recognised by the Gore community for the contribution, not that I have made so much, but that I have been part of.

“I have met so many wonderful people.”