Plim­mer­ton man hon­oured

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

He may have lived in Porirua for 14 years, but Christchurch oc­cu­pies a big chunk of Paul Swallow’s heart.

The Plim­mer­ton res­i­dent was made a Mem­ber of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit in the Queen’s Birth­day honours, for ser­vices to the state and the com­mu­nity.

He was recog­nised for his work with Busi­ness New Zealand in the af­ter­math of the 2011 Christchurch earth­quake and then as direc­tor of the Christchurch Earth­quake Ap­peal Trust.

To­day, Swallow is the project manager of the Christchurch Jus­tice and Emer­gency Ser­vices Precinct build­ing project.

‘‘It’s in­cred­i­bly hum­bling to re­ceive this hon­our,’’ he said.

‘‘When we were sit­ting on the couch that night, watch­ing the footage of the earth­quakes on TV, I knew I had to do some­thing. It’s been a huge part of my life th­ese past few years and it’s great to know that peo­ple are tak­ing the time to look at the im­pact or dif­fer­ence I’ve made.’’

Swallow said tak­ing a trip over Christchurch in an Iro­quois he­li­copter to sur­vey the dam­age was some­thing he would never for­get.

He was not based in the city for Busi­ness NZ or once the ap­peal trust got up a head of steam, but al­ways felt part of the re­build­ing com­mu­nity. He said he had a ded­i­cated team around him at the trust.

‘‘I would go down fre­quently and when you’re talk­ing to peo­ple about what they were fac­ing in their lives, or sports groups that had lost their clu­b­rooms, it was very af­fect­ing.

‘‘I felt very com­mit­ted to what I was do­ing to help. At no time did I want to leave the work be­hind and move on to some­thing else un­til I’d seen ev­ery­thing through.’’

The trust’s work came with a large amount of sat­is­fac­tion, dis­tribut­ing money to wor­thy sec­tions of the Christchurch com­mu­nity, Swallow said. There is only a small amount of ad­min­is­tra­tion left with the trust to­day, which he is happy to look af­ter.

Swallow, 48, grew up in Welling­ton and, af­ter a time in Lon­don, moved to Plim­mer­ton in 2001. He said he loved the peo­ple, fresh air and nat­u­ral beauty of Porirua.

His de­sire to help peo­ple came from his par­ents, who worked for St John’s Am­bu­lance, and he said he had striven to fol­low their ex­am­ple.

Swallow started his own ser­vice to oth­ers at 8, do­ing first aid on Kil­birnie rugby fields.

He has also vol­un­teered with the Help­ing Hands Foun­da­tion in Welling­ton, Youth for Christ in Lower Hutt and the Plim­mer­ton Com­mu­nity Trust. He was a key con­trib­u­tor to the estab­lish­ment of the Parachute Mu­sic Fes­ti­val in the 1980s.

Plim­mer­ton’s Paul Swallow has been made a Mem­ber of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit.

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