Na­tional hon­ours for a lo­cal hero

Central Otago Mirror - - FRONT PAGE -

Roxburgh woman Ella David­son hasn’t thought about what to wear when she at­tends the plush Ki­wibank New Zealand of the Year gala awards.

‘‘You can’t go shop­ping or any­thing in Roxburgh and I’m in the rest home. They will ei­ther have to take me as they find me or do with­out me,’’ she said.

The plucky 88-yearold was at first a bit shocked, and later de­lighted, to learn she was one of only four na­tional fi­nal­ists in the Ki­wibank Lo­cal He­roes Awards.

David­son has con­trib­uted count­less hours to Roxburgh and the wider Te­viot Val­ley in­clud­ing be­ing elected the first fe­male mayor in Cen­tral Otago, in 1980, and hold­ing the po­si­tion un­til 1989 when Roxburgh Bor­ough be­came part of the Cen­tral Otago Dis­trict Coun­cil.

‘‘I grew up with six brothers and one sis­ter and a fa­ther that be­lieved that women should do the same work and have the same op­por­tu­ni­ties as men. And I had a hus­band who al­ways said ‘of course you can do it’.’’

The girl from Mataura went on to be a pi­o­neer of the top dress­ing in­dus­try in the south with hus­band Les, an exLan­caster bomber pi­lot.

As her three chil­dren moved into their teens she be­gan work as a real es­tate agent in Roxburgh and moved into lo­cal body pol­i­tics.

She was also a mar­riage cel­e­brant and, as the in­au­gu­ral pres­i­dent of the Probus club, David­son started a group called ‘For­get Me Not’ pro­vid­ing support to peo­ple re­cov­er­ing from op­er­a­tions or can­cer treat­ments. She has been in­volved with Vol­un­tary Help (Te­viot Val­ley) Inc for many years.

She was a peer leader in Age Con­cern Otago’s Steady As You Go fall preven­tion pro­gramme for seven years and un­der­took train­ing to lead strength and bal­ance ex­er­cises each week for a group of over 65-year-olds. The group is still op­er­at­ing to­day with strong num­bers.

In 1994, David­son was made a Melvin Jones Fel­low by the Roxburgh and Dis­trict Lions Club and was given a Com- mu­nity Ser­vice Award in the Cen­tral Otago Awards 2013.

The award will be an­nounced along with the New Zealan­der of the Year award at a gala din­ner in Auck­land on Fe­bru­ary 25, which she would likely at­tend with one of her two daugh­ters, wear­ing the same el­e­gant out­fit she wore while re­ceiv­ing her Otago lo­cal he­roes award in De­cem­ber.

Fi­nal­ists in the New Zealan­der of the Year award cat­e­gory are; Julie Chap­man, chief ex­ec­u­tive and founder, Kid­sCan; Sir John Kir­wan: rugby coach, men­tal health and de­pres­sion aware­ness ad­vo­cate and Sir Stephen Tin­dall: founder of The Tin­dall Foun­da­tion.


Lo­cal hero: For­mer Roxburgh mayor Ella David­son (right) re­ceives an Otago lo­cal he­roes award from Dunedin City coun­cil­lor Jinty McTav­ish, in De­cem­ber.

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