George Groombridge with his wife Shirley in 2015. PHOTO/FILE
Wairarapa residents are mourning the loss of local legend George Groombridge, who died at the weekend.
The news of the 94-year old’s death was met with an outpouring of grief on social media, with many people recalling Groombridge’s significant contribution to the community.
Born in 1928, Groombridge called Wairarapa home his entire life and served the region in various roles, including as a social worker and politician.
In 1983 he was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community.
He received credit, alongside Garry Daniell, for saving Masterton Hospital from closure with the ‘Hands around the Hospital’ campaign in 1991.
Inspired by the first ‘Hands’ campaign, over 1000 people encircled Masterton’s Town Hall in a bid to save the muncipal complex last year.
Groombridge spoke at the event thanking the “genuine Masterton people” who attended.
In 1996 Groombridge was the New Zealand First party’s candidate for Wairarapa in the general body election, and 10 years later was elected to the party president, where he served until 2010.
Many in the region recalled Groombridge and his wife Shirley as Mr and Mrs Claus, having dressed up as the iconic Chritsmas duo for almost 20 years.
In 2019, Groombridge celebrated his 91st birthday with the launch of his book The Town of Many Streams – Masterton my Home.
He said the book was “a glance back over the years that have been and a chance to recall all the events and the people that have helped me on my life’s journey”.