Good works afloat re­warded

Central Leader - - NEWS - By EMMA WHIT­TAKER

A hus­band and wife who have spent most of their lives help­ing de­liver des­per­ately needed health care in de­prived na­tions are be­ing re­warded for their ser­vice.

Graeme and Sharon Walls started serv­ing with the in­ter­na­tional Mercy Ships char­ity in 1983.

To ac­knowl­edge their work the Ro­tary Club of Hills­bor­ough, Lyn­field and Mt Roskill has awarded Mr and Mrs Walls with Paul Har­ris Fel­low­ships.

Mercy Ships is a Chris­tian or­gan­i­sa­tion known in­ter­na­tion­ally for its hospi­tal ships that have pro­vided med­i­cal, dental and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment aid in the world’s most im­pov­er­ished ports for the past 30 years.

Mr Walls started out as a school teacher on one of the char­ity’s ves­sels and the then 19-year-old Mrs Walls worked in ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Af­ter meet­ing at sea, the par­ents of Ja­son, 20, Chelsea, 18, and Daniel, 16, went on to run Mercy Ships’ na­tional of­fices in four coun­tries.

‘‘Graeme said as soon as he stepped on board he knew it would be home – he just didn’t re­alise it would be for more than 30 years,’’ Mrs Walls says.

Life on board Mercy Ships flag­ship Africa Mercy was like be­ing part of a vil­lage, Mrs Walls says.

The fam­ily of five lived to­gether in their own apart­ment sized cabin and the chil­dren went to the on­board school.

More re­cently a Star­bucks was added to the ship.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing you need to be in­de­pen­dent is on board. It’s all about com­mu­nity on the ship.’’

The fam­ily moved back to Mt Roskill in 2008 where Mr Walls is the di­rec­tor of Mercy Ships New Zealand of­fice and Mrs Walls is the com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager.

Mrs Walls says they are likely to head back out to sea when Daniel fin­ishes high school in the next two years.

‘‘A strong part of why we do what we do is our Chri- stian faith, we have a strong call­ing to do it,’’ she says.

Veter­ans: Graeme and Sharon Walls with Ro­tary In­ter­na­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tive Larry Rob­bins, right.

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