Fowler’s dedication leads to Queen’s Service Medal
A Queen’s Service Medal was the last thing Gary Fowler expected when he was informed of his achievement in April.
The former Matamata man, and now Pauanui resident, was recognised for his services to the community and agriculture in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Many will associate Fowler with his annual fundraising concerts he held in his backyard that attracted more than 1500 people and raised over $150,000 for local emergency services including Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Coastguard, St John Ambulance and the Pauanui Volunteer Fire Brigade.
His ambitious vision has also seen the construction of the 25km cycle and walkway that will connect Pauanui and Tairua.
So far 4.2km of the trail has been successfully completed comprising 80 metres of boardwalk, seven bridges, 15 donated named seats, native tree planting, instigation of a pest eradication/predator control programme and installation of a user counting device.
When he was told of his award, he said it was in recognition of what the volunteers have done together.
‘‘I’m just the poor bugger who has got the recognition for it.
‘‘You can’t get through all by yourself. It’s the people around you,’’ he said.
Before his dedication to improving local facilities for the Pauanui community, Fowler contributed to a range of agricultural organisations while farming in Matamata.
He was a disputes conciliator for Federated Farmers from 1984 to 2000 and an advisor to the New Zealand Dairy Board on research priorities.
Fowler was a member of the Regional Animal Health Advisory Committee from 1989 to 1994 and has been involved in deer farming organisations since 1988. Over the years, Fowler said he had many favourite memories, including helping develop the Tirau Golf course when he lived in Matamata.
He added that seeing the enjoyment on people’s faces at his concerts would always stick with him, enough to consider holding another concert.
‘‘I think we might have a one-off. I’ve been wavering on the fact one day we will have the final concert. Once we complete the trail, we will have a concert to celebrate,’’ he said.
Gary Fowler and his wife Anne are ensconced in the Pauanui community.