When Julie Ellis's two-year-old son was diagnosed with autism, her world was tipped upside down.
It took her a year to come to terms with the diagnosis and understand what she needed to do to support Josh.
Julie says having a special needs child can be stressful, lonely, confusing and expensive.
She wanted support and to meet other parents of children on the autism spectrum disorder. Julie discovered there was not much offered and while private behavioural therapy was available, it was extremely expensive.
In 2003 she established the Teach Me Trust to support families who have children with ASD or related conditions in Manawatū and Horowhenua.
To date, the trust has distributed $320,000 to local families for anything extra an autistic child needs a typical child doesn't. This could be treatment, a safety trampoline (autistic children can find the repetition soothing) or specialist educational software which recognises facial expressions.
The Teach Me Trust also provides information and moral support.
Julie is now looking for parents of younger autistic children to join the trust as she has recently resigned to focus on helping Josh through NCEA.
In 2010, she started a weekly gymnastics class for children with ASD, providing a less structured environment than normal gym classes and one where the parents don't get stressed because their child is making a lot of noise or will not get off a particular piece of equipment.
She has trained young adults, often trainee teachers or psychology students, to work as autism caregivers helping children with homework and taking them on outings.
Julie organised a social skills course for autistic children, teaching them to greet people, take turns and make conversation.
When Josh was eight they wrote How Joshua Learned, explaining how he thinks and strategies Julie and her husband Tim had developed to help Josh cope with everyday situations like going in the car and having a haircut. The book was published by The National Autistic Society in the UK.
The mother of three is a trained primary school teacher who now works as a writer of graded readers and picture books. She has written two other books about children with autism - The New Neighbours and Samantha's Brother.
She was heavily involved in the production of the DVD In My Shoes: An Everyday Look at Autism Spectrum Disorder for the Promotion of Acceptance and Inclusion for Autism Spectrum Disorder Trust. Julie was a key player from conception to distribution, co-writing three of the scripts, assisting with editing and promoting the DVD. To date 22,000 DVDs have been sent from Palmerston North throughout New Zealand and to 14 other countries.
About one in 100 New Zealanders has an autism spectrum disorder, a figure Julie says some might be surprised about as people with autism are often hidden. For example, children with ASD often attend school part time so they are not visible to other parents at the school gate at 9am and 3pm.
Julie shares her knowledge not only with parents, but teachers and health professionals. MidCentral Health clinical nurse specialist Dina Whatnell says Julie shares practical ideas and strategies workshop participants can transfer to enhance their professional practice.
Julie has been a member of Autism Manawatu's committee, helping raise the profile of the organisation.
Julie is working on establishing a teen social club, changing direction as Josh grows to try and provide what he needs. She is also writing a book of handy hints for parents on how to enjoy their time with their autistic child.
While in solitary confinement in a prisoner of war camp in France, Pat Hickton recalled how people had cared for him in children's homes.
Pat's mother died when he was four and until he was 13 and started work he lived in children's homes in the lower North Island.
Pat also reflected on the Resistance fighters and French villagers who had helped him evade capture when the RAF plane he was in was shot down in September 1941.
He resolved to help others as much as he could and today his voluntary service over many decades is recognised.
After some weeks dodging the German soldiers, Pat was captured in Andorra and taken to an underground prisoner of war camp on the French-Italian border.
He spent 10 months there including 60 days in solitary confinement for spitting at a guard who first spat at Pat.
In August 1942, Pat escaped via a rat-infested sewer while the guards were watching a concert. He was once again helped by the Resistance, being taken by a trawler off the south French coast, then on a destroyer to Gibraltar, then by battleship to Glasgow. Pat returned to New Zealand the following year.
One of the Resistance fighters who helped him was Nancy Wake, the New Zealand-born White Mouse. In 2003, Pat read Nancy was destitute and living in Australia. Pat wrote to the then leaders of New Zealand, Australia, Britain and France. He was delighted when he later found out Nancy had been placed in a London nursing home.
Pak'nSave shoppers might recognise Pat as the man behind the Poppy Day stall there. He has taken to spraying some of the poppies with perfume, an added attraction for female buyers. He told one woman who wasn't going to buy a poppy he had been propagating the perfumed ones for 10 years. She believed him.
Pat pins poppies on people with arthritic hands and has been known to offer a twirl in the Pak'nSave foyer to women while their husbands are buying a Lotto ticket.
For the past 10 years, Pat has been the chief Poppy Day collector in Palmerston North.
As with many returned servicemen, Pat wonders why he came back when so many did not and sees his voluntary work as his payment for being spared.
The 92-year-old is a life member of the Palmerston North Returned and Services Association. Since he retired he has been a regular hospital and home visitor, and he helps people by doing their gardens and shopping. He loves gardening and often takes produce from his own garden when visiting.
Pat is president of the King's Empire Veterans Manawatū branch, a position he has held since 2008. He helps organise Anzac Day services and is patron of the Hokowhitu Bowling Club, where he does the garden.
Pat had a long career with the railways and was then employed at the Dairy Research Institute making cheese until his retirement in 1987.
He says some people think life is all about good things for them - no floods, no droughts and being able to pick money off trees. Instead, people have to take the good with the bad.
He had a pacemaker fitted earlier this year, but says he is not one for sitting down. If people need a hand he wants to help them.
As those who nominated Pat for this award wrote, he is always cheerful and will help out if his diary allows.
The first boxing cup Malcolm Nicol won has pride of place in his china cabinet. It's tiny but in his seven-year-old mind he was the world champion.
For 40 years Malcolm has been the head coach of the Palmerston North Boxing Club and for him the reward is seeing his charges have their hand raised in the air in victory.
As a young man, Malcolm boxed at the now defunct Kiwi Boxing Club, following the gloves of his father who boxed in the army. He credits boxing with having never smoked as smokers were kicked out the club door due to the effect cigarettes had on their lungs.
Malcolm was in his 20s when his two younger brothers wanted to try boxing, so he took them along to the Palmerston North Boxing Club. The club's founder wanted to retire and in 1973 asked Malcolm to take over as coach.
Malcolm's motivation is his love of the sport - he enjoys the competitiveness and the sportsmanship and he has made friends for life.
Malcolm has turned out 46 national champions including Danny Meehan, who won the Jamieson Belt, boxing's equivalent of the Ranfurly Shield. He has only recently started coaching female boxers and had success with Lisa Wamoana, who won a New Zealand championship.
Malcolm has taken New Zealand teams to Australia and Samoa as well as making countless trips to tournaments within New Zealand with Palmerston North boxers.
He recalls taking a boy to a tournament in Te Awamutu. The boy fell asleep on the way home, gripping his trophy so tightly has hand was just about purple. The trophy was the first thing he had won in his life and he wasn't going to let it go.
The club has two training nights a week - Tuesdays for anyone and Thursdays for seniors and the club's 10 registered boxers. Up to 30 people attend the Tuesday open nights.
The club charges just $2 a night but Malcolm says if kids cannot afford it he would rather let them in for free, than have them wander the streets. He has found kids with few prospects often go on to be good boxers as someone has taken an interest in them.
Malcolm says over the years it has been a battle to get gear and a couple of times he has paid the rent from his own pocket. This year, though, he has the backing of a good committee.
Malcolm's wife Shayne is also involved in the club, serving as treasurer, and washing and ironing training gear.
Malcolm, 66, retired a month ago from working in the freezers at Foodstuffs. He recently had his spine rebuilt following cancer and found missing training nights frustrating. He hopes to be walking unaided by December to take the junior boys to a tournament in Hamilton.
Now he is retired, Malcolm wants to spend up to four afternoons a week training unemployed youth.
He organises the club's annual tournament. For the past 15 years it has been held at the Princess Tavern, attracting boxers from as far afield as Christchurch. Entry for spectators is free and the tournament is popular due to Malcolm's skilful matching of opponents.
The gentle, mellow man says there is no use stomping and carrying on when judges' decisions do not go the way of his boxers. Instead he thinks there is always tomorrow - or next week - for another crack.
When Helen Johnson was a child, she hit her head on the bottom of a swimming pool and consequently didn't learn to swim.
Stroke forward to 2000 when daughter Keri-Anne, then 13, came home from a Special Olympics swimming event with a certificate and a mile-wide smile.
Helen thought this was an organisation to be involved in and get involved she did, starting as a parent helper at swimming lessons. In 2002 she learnt to swim so she could coach the sport. The Special Olympics Manawatū team has grown from 13 to more than 40 swimmers with Helen drawing in other coaches.
Attending the Special Olympics National Games in 2001, Helen was exposed to the bigger picture and was sold on the organisation.
Helen co-ordinates the Manawatū club programmes and events, supporting coaches and athletes along the way. She has served as chairperson of Special Olympics Manawatū and secretary of Special Olympics Lower North Island.
In 2003 she learnt basketball so she could help start a team. There are now six basketball coaches and three teams in Manawatū.
In 2006 Helen resurrected Special Olympics athletics in Manawatū and currently there are 20 athletes and three coaches.
Keen to help Mike Ryan introduce skiing, Helen donned her skis, but at the bottom of Happy Valley one day with sore feet, she swore never again. However, when Mike said she couldn't attend the 2011 Special Olympics National Winter Games if she couldn't ski, Helen went back up the mountain and had lessons.
Skiing and golf are where Helen is currently directing her coaching talents. However, after picking up the role of head table tennis coach in the New Zealand team going to the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Games, she plans to introduce table tennis to the Manawatū line-up of 10 sports disciplines.
She is also a Bocce and Athletics New Zealand official.
Helen helped put together the successful bid for Palmerston North to host the 2009 National Games.
She regularly takes teams to events, highlights including the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Shanghai and Athens.
In December Helen will be part of the 22-strong New Zealand team to the Asia Pacific Games in Newcastle, NSW. It is credit to Helen and the Manawatu club that 11 of those representatives are from here.
Helen is driven by giving people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to do something most people think they can't. She enjoys seeing each athlete overcome difficult challenges as they become increasingly independent.
In 1995 as a parent, Helen began her involvement with Parent to Parent Manawatū, a support and information network for families of children with disabilities. Helen has been a support parent since 2001. In 2007 she was elected to the national board and this year became national president.
Since 2008 Helen has been a member of the Manawatū Horowhenua COGS Local Distribution Committee.
She was a Street Van volunteer for several years. As well as being a team member, she was a co-leader and on the committee.
She credits serving on a Plunket committee and the Milson School and Ross Intermediate boards of trustees with giving her a good grounding in governance, leadership and organisation structure.
Helen, a designer and dressmaker by trade, admits she sometimes gets overloaded, and often used to be at her computer by 5am to get everything finished. She spends about 20 hours a week on her voluntary work.
Daughter Keri-Anne, now 27, still swims and enjoys basketball and skiing.
Helen points to photos of young people enjoying a recent skiing camp and says the personal achievements and smiles make it all worth it.
David Chapple planned to stay in Palmerston North for only six months. That was in 1963 and he is still here, serving his community.
David spent his working life as an architect, often giving his services pro bono or at a non-commercial rate to community projects including Arohanui Hospice and Massey University Christian Centre. He has assisted many church and sports groups with their building plans.
David says helping people was instilled in him as a boy, using whatever talents he had been given to leave the place a little better than he found it.
At high school he received a prize for service - the only school prize he got. He used to run the book room.
His Christian faith has also been a motivator for his community service.
He has held many leadership positions in the Awapuni Rotary Club and St Matthew's Anglican Church in Awapuni.
As a Rotarian David has helped set up more than three Probus clubs, but says he is still too busy to join one himself.
David served as chairman of the Manawatū branch of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust, taking a special interest in the preservation of the Hoffman Kiln.
He was chairman of Across Social Services for seven years and he has also been involved in the Palmerston North Christian Home Trust and Palmerston North Anglican Children's Trust.
David was a member of the Cityscapes ginger group, which successfully advocated for enhanced entrances into the city. He was on the working party which assessed potential sites for a second city bridge across the Manawatū River and assisted in the setting up of the Square Edge Community Arts Centre. He chaired The Square Consultation Group and served on the trust to establish a community house.
David is currently part of Wildbase's push to build a rehabilitation centre at the Esplanade.
When David was a young architect he used to fill his evenings studying woodwork at tech, skills which have come in handy recently.
David has become one of the faces of MenzShed Manawatu. He helped to establish a MenzShed in Palmerston North and is currently the chairman.
David gets just as much satisfaction from the little projects as the big ones, perhaps even more. At the moment he is helping to make an indoor mini golf course for the Marion Kennedy Centre and helping build trolleys for a Blue Light trolley derby in November.
David says he has been blessed with a supportive wife, Helen, and they do voluntary work together including the distribution of Ezee Meals in Palmerston North. David says he and Helen complement each other.
Asked why he has stayed in Palmerston North all these years, David says it is just a great place to be. It is a very easy place to do business and is about the right size, having everything one needs but is not too big that one feels lost.
The final word goes to Anglican Archdeacon Emeritus Bernard Faull: "In his professional and personal life David takes time to notice people and things and to look to see how he can add value to a project or support and enable someone on their life's journey."