National honours for a local hero
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.