Com­mu­nity bat­tler’s spirit wins

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By CAITLIN WAL­LACE

A life of strug­gles has been left be­hind by Julie King who has stepped into a world of good after be­ing recog­nised with a na­tional com­mu­nity spirit award.

King, who was among 24 of the coun­try’s fi­nal­ists for the in­au­gu­ral Pride of New Zealand Awards, was an­nounced win­ner of the Com­mu­nity Spirit Award on Wed­nes­day. ‘‘I kind of freaked out at first,’’ she said. The bub­bly win­ner ap­pears a happy per­son on the out­side but King ad­mits it was not al­ways that way. ‘‘The me be­fore would like to be alone.’’ Her per­sonal bat­tle started at the young age of 11 with her grand­mother’s death.

The event caused her to ‘‘lose hope’’ and she spi­ralled into self-de­struc­tion.

‘‘I was just strug­gling with life, I was in and out of hos­pi­tal,’’ she said.

‘‘I never be­lieved in my­self but I had my beau­ti­ful friends around.’’

Some­thing changed in May last year when the mother of four de­cided to stand up against syn­thetic cannabis.

‘‘I thought enough was enough, even if I have to look silly and stand there by my­self.

‘‘I was hear­ing how it was break­ing up fam­i­lies and rob­bing peo­ple.’’

In one short year King man­aged to bring a com­mu­nity to­gether to protest against and help ban the sale of le­gal highs.

And she also brought them into the kitchen with Toko­roa Love Soup.

Though she is orig­i­nally from West Auck­land she grew up vis­it­ing her aunty in Toko­roa.

And the sense of com­mu­nity grabbed her right from the start.

‘‘I’ve al­ways been drawn to Toko­roa . . . it’ll al­ways be where I be­long.’’

Un­be­liev­able: Julie King was sur­prised to re­ceive the in­au­gu­ral TSB com­mu­nity spirit award.

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