Tapanui man Graeme Smith received a Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community and theatre in the New Year’s Honours The Ensign reporter Sandy Eggleston talks to him about what motivates him to serve in the community.
The desire to be involved in community groups probably came from his mother, Eva, Graeme Smith says.
His mother was influential in the town when it came to organising various projects.
“My mother was the pusher and shover – she would rule the roost,” Mr Smith said.
His father, Jack, stayed in the background but was available to lend a helping hand.
“He was quite the opposite.
“He didn’t really get involved in the community other than as .. a helper – he was quite happy to turn up and do his bit but he certainly would never lead anything.”
It was natural for him to follow the example of his parents.
“I just seemed to have that mentality that I wanted to be involved with as many things as possible.”
At school he discovered a love of acting and singing and joined the Tapanui Drama Club, which later became the West Otago Theatrical Society.
Acting “was probably my major love” but he also became involved in designing and building sets for productions.
It was at the drama club that he met his wife, Rosalyn.
Joining the Jaycees Club as a young man also had an influence on his development.
“They were a marvellous organisation for young men because personal development was their No1 criteria and community service was No2.
“The oratory and the public speaking and the meeting procedure and leadership development skills were all something they pushed very hard and encouraged young men to take part in.
“It was an organisation I enjoyed thoroughly.”
Club members took on many projects, including building the Black Gully playground and the West Otago swimming pool.
“We seemed to have time in those days to do things on Saturdays .. To have a working bee on a Saturday was effortless.”
It was very satisfying helping people.
“You’ll be rewarded a hundred times if you get yourself involved in any community activity.
“It makes a person happier.”
family for five generations and he and his wife were there to stay.
“This is a wonderful community here, West Otago.
“We have virtually every facility we want.”
After he and his wife bought a home in Wanaka in the 1980s people assumed the couple would retire there.
“Ros and I said ‘no way – we’ll never retire to Wanaka’.”