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Couple’s contributions celebrated

When Heather and David Grant Smith were notified they would both be receiving the King’s Service Medal for services to the community, one of them initially felt as though they were receiving undue credit for their spouse’s work – “But then when I looked at the various things I’ve been involved with over the years, there has been a lot volunteering and achievements,” Heather conceded.

The couple supported a range of community groups with donations through the local rural supply business they established in Carterton in 1998 until they sold it in 2015.

They have both also held a number of local volunteer roles.

Heather had a leading role in the Cancer Society’s transport activities in the region as a volunteer driver from 2002 to 2021, taking people from Wairarapa to oncology appointments in Wellington and Palmerston North, as well as acting as driving coordinator during this time, scheduling volunteers and ensuring patients received support.

Her involvement was inspired by having been a cancer survivor herself: “I spent six weeks driving myself to and from Wellington every day for radiation,” she said, “so I felt that if I could do it then, I could do it for other people.”

Heather has also been the Community Budgeting Trust Wairarapa’s volunteer chairperson and office coordinator since 2014, providing support for people in financial and personal distress, and helping families regain financial stability.

Although she acknowledges this work can be “frustrating at times”, she said she ultimately “really enjoys it”, noting there’s a” huge amount of satisfaction seeing someone in financial trouble coming out the other side”.

Heather has been a member of the Napier Lioness Club, where she was treasurer from 1984 to 1992, volunteered for Hawke’s Bay Lifeline call centre, and has been secretary and treasurer of the New Zealand Groundspread Association Central District Branch since 2014.

She has also supported her husband as convener of the Carterton Daffodil Festival since 2014, helping raise significant funds for the Carterton Lions Club and Carterton District Council in the process.

“Basically I was just supporting the good man sitting beside me,” Heather said. “I became his secretary; I’d do that side of it, and he’d do the physical stuff.”

For his part, Grant [who prefers to go by his middle name] said his Daffodil Festival role was really down to be the man on the spot – or more precisely, a flower field at 5.30am – when nine years ago, the person in charge of the event took himself home, never to return, after surveying the damage that overnight rain had done to his earlier preparations.

“I was thrown in the deep end and thought I may as well keep on going!”

In addition, Grant has been a member of Carterton Lions Club for three decades, including two years as president, and was made a Life Member of the Lloyd Morgan Charitable Trust in 2017.

As well as the Carterton Daffodil Festival, he’s been the driving force behind several successful community fundraising campaigns, particularly the purchase of a new food van, which he managed for the first few years of operation and continues to consistently provide a funding stream for further projects.

He was a Carterton District Councillor from 2008 to 2013, during which time he chaired the Water Race Committee, although in hindsight he said council wasn’t really his thing – “too much reading; I call it ‘non-decision making’”.

Grant has also “been involved with Carterton Golf Club over 60 years, where my parents were members”. A member of the club himself since 1961, he served as president from 1984 to 1986 and again from 2020 to 2022, and was made a Life Member in 1995. In addition to financial support for the club, he has provided machinery, equipment, and spent time assisting with repairs to machinery and infrastructure, including complex breaks to the irrigation system.

Asked what prompted him to spend so much time serving his community, Grant said, “I just enjoy it all; it gives me something to do,” while Heather mentioned “the sense of fellowship and the desire to support other people”.

Neither of them relish the spotlight, however, and were breathing a sigh of relief that they’d be on a long planned road trip from Darwin to Perth when the King’s Birthday Honours were announced.

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