Top hon­our for com­mu­nity stal­wart

Wairarapa News - - SPORT - JACK BARLOW

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.

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