Giving back to the community has paid off for one dedicated individual.
Tapanui woman Lorna Mills was recently acknowledged for her continuous years of service through the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association (RSA) in West Otago.
The RNZ RSA Volunteer of the Year Awards cover four categories — service, initiative, teamwork and leadership. She was nominated for, and won, the service category.
Mrs Mills has been a member of the West Otago RSA for 30 years, and has served as the women’s section president for seven years.
The women’s section, through her drive and initiative, had become and remained a ‘‘vibrant and successful’’ division of the local RSA movement with a membership of 44 very active women, as noted in the citation of nomination by West Otago RSA secretary Horace McAuley.
She has been club treasurer since 2005 and leads West Otago in Anzac Day services annually. She enjoys organising, overseeing and being a significant figure in Poppy Day collections and Anzac Day Welfare collections at the three venues within West Otago.
She organises the Anzac Day catering and evening functions, compiles the Anzac Day commemoration service programme and takes care of any other requirements which make memorable Anzac Day commemorations for the West Otago community.
Mrs Mills said she had enjoyed everything about contributing to her community and had many highlights.
‘‘One of my favourite moments was when we would visit families in their homes and brought them baking, and if you went at around lunch time, they’d usually have a whisky on the table ready for you,’’ she joked.
‘‘I’ve lived here pretty much all of my life and I’ve always strived to be active in the community and help out where I can. I really love it.’’
She said she loved handing out welfare packages to people involved within the community and acknowledging those who did their best to keep the West Otago community thriving.
Mr McAuley said he appreciated her efforts and was proud of her recognition.
‘‘Within the RSA movement in West Otago she is our well-respected ‘mother’, a leader within many other groups within West Otago and a contributor in so many ways,’’ Mr McAuley said.
‘‘We really appreciate everything she has done for us here and we wouldn’t be where we are without her.’’
National president BJ Clark said the volunteer of the year awards were a way to thank their volunteers who gave so much time to help veterans across the country.
‘‘With over 30 years of service to the RSA, Lorna represents the best of our volunteers.
‘‘She has been a central part of Anzac Day commemorations, provided welfare support to veterans in her community and served on numerous executive committees within her local RSA.
‘‘On behalf of the RNZ RSA I want to congratulate Lorna on this award, and thank her for her years of dedicated service.’’