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Lifetime of service to RSA recognised

Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association national president BJ Clark, Wairarapa district president Maitland Manning, Joan O’Neill, and national vice-president Bob [Bukit] Hill. PHOTO/STEVE RENDLE

When it comes to long service, two stalwarts of the Masterton branch of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association take some beating.

This week Joan O’Neill, 95, received a RNZRSA Merit Award and certificate marking 50 years of service in the district – though she has been a RSA member for 64 years in total.

Her record includes being a committee member in the women’s section from 1964-1980, president from 1980-87, and treasurer from 1993-2006. She remains a committee member.

Not that awards are anything new for her – she received a certificate of service in 1990, life membership in 1995, and life membership from the women’s section of the RSA in 2000.

In 2006 she received a civic award from Masterton District Council for her work which, outside the RSA, also includes work with Plunket and providing flowers in hospital.

Bob ‘Bukit’ Hill, a relative youngster at 75, is national vice-president and received a RNZRSA Gold Star and Certificate marking his work.

Hill is a veteran of campaigns in Malaya – Bukit is Malay for Hill — Borneo, and Vietnam, and joined the RSA in 1972 in Hawera.

Moving to Masterton, he joined the Wairarapa branch in 2005, became president in 2009, serving in that role until last year.

He was elected to the national council in 2012, and became national vice-president in 2013.

He remains a committee member for the Wairarapa branch.

Presenting the award, national president BJ Clark said the gold star was not an award given lightly, based on length of service, but had to be approved at the highest levels of the organisation.

“The bar is lifted before we can award a gold star. In this case, it was a no-brainer.”

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