News, Events and Culture

Nerves heighten as national stage looms

Thursday March 17 2016

Group putting Palmy on the map for families will see the city well represented.

Grant Taylor and Colin Dyer are counting down the hours before they represent Palmerston North’s volunteer community in Dunedin this weekend.

With the 2015 Trustpower National Community Awards about to kick off, the Palmerston North Esplanade Scenic Railway representatives are confident the efforts of their volunteers will stand up well on stage.

Taylor and Dyer will be taking the efforts of the iconic and well-loved esplanade service head to head with the country’s best and brightest voluntary groups and organisations on a national stage of friendly competition. They’ll share the railway story from its inception and planning stages in 1966, right through to finding sustainability today. Palmerston North City Councillor Vaughan Dennison will also attend to support our local team.

The 2015 Trustpower National Community Awards brings together 25 groups from across 27 New Zealand districts and the Wellington region – all are Supreme Winners of last year’s Trustpower Community Awards, a programme run in partnership with local councils across the country.

The volunteers behind the Palmerston North Esplanade Scenic Railway came out on top at the Trustpower Palmerston North Community Awards last year, beating out a record 198 other local voluntary organisations for their fundraising, attraction development and volunteer services.

Trustpower community relations representative Emily Beaton says the longevity and dedication of the team behind the railway will have a strong impact this weekend.

“It’s so wonderful to see a group like the Esplanade Scenic Railway coming up for recognition, especially as they’ve been at this for so long. They are so proud to be a part of Palmerston North’s community.

“The volunteers who keep the railway going year after year put in some serious hours. All the maintenance and fit out work is done by their team.  The drivers, the money collectors – it’s all voluntary work.”

Joining the Palmerston North contingent at the National Awards will be a host of similarly dedicated volunteers representing districts from the Far North right down to Stewart Island in Southland.

In between a weekend of sight-seeing and networking, Dyer and Taylor will give an eight minute presentation on what the group has achieved and try to convince a panel of independent judges they deserve the title of 2015’s Trustpower National Community Award Supreme Winner. The groups will be judged on their presentations, along with a 1,000 word summary of the organisation.

This year on the judging panel the Trustpower community relations team will be hosting TVNZ’s Good Sorts presenter Haydn Jones and Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Honourable Jo Goodhew along with several other community and Trustpower representatives.

Presentations will take place over most of Saturday at the historic Otago Boys’ High School, with an awards dinner to announce award recipients that evening at the Dunedin Town Hall. The Trustpower National Community Awards Supreme Winner will take home a custom-made trophy, $4,000 in prize money, a framed certificate and a$1,000 Exult volunteer sector consultancy voucher. The Runner Up will receive $2,500 in prize money, a $500 Exult voucher and a framed certificate.

“Whether or not this group takes home any prize money, the Palmerston North Esplanade Scenic Railway is invaluable to the city’s community – that’s what is really important here,” Beaton said.