Top honour for community stalwart
As someone who’s been cycling Wairarapa’s highways and byways for nearly 60 years, Rod Sutherland is a common sight around town.
Yet he’s much more than just a cyclist. Sutherland’s extensive services to the community have been officially recognised, with the Masterton man making this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
He said the news came as a shock.
‘‘I was sent a letter notifying me about five or six weeks ago,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m really humbled. I sort of wonder, ‘why me?’’’
Sutherland has been particularly involved with fundraising for Parkinson’s disease treatments. His wife Ruth suffers from Parkinson’s, as does cycling partner Brian Lambert. His close proximity to the disease led to him setting up the annual Pedal for Parkinson’s event.
Held as part of the Huri Huri Bike Festival, Pedal for Parkinson’s has raised thousands for Parkinson’s Wairarapa. He has also helped organised the annual Parkinson’s Awareness week for the past seven years.
He says his wife’s Parkinson’s helps put things in perspective.
‘‘It brings you back to reality,’’ he said.
‘‘I do things because I have a lot of energy, but I especially like doing things for people who are less fortunate.’’
Sutherland cycles almost every day. He’s deeply involved with the Huri Huri Bike Festival, where his biggest responsibility lies in sweeping up participants who are unable to make it to the finish line in the time permitted.
Of course, he’s also been involved in a large range of community projects.
He’s served as a President of the Masterton South Rotary Club, which he’s been part of for 21 years. He’s also helped with the Masterton Intermediate School reading programme, organised club teams to participate in the Round Taupo Cycle race, and helped set up and maintain Masterton’s Millennium Reserve.
It’s a lot to squeeze in for someone who’s 73-years-old.
‘‘I’m just going to do things as long as I can,’’ he said.
‘‘I’m not going to take the dog out for a walk, then sit back and wonder what’s next.
‘‘I mean, really, I just do what I do.’’
Rod Sutherland’s community work has been recognised in a big way, with the Masterton man making the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.