Working for the community
From the first person in the country to earn the President’s (then the Duke of Edinburgh’s) Award to the latest two recipients, the award teaches youth to be mindful of their community and its issues and to become involved in finding solutions.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is the patron-in-chief of the South African chapter.
A police official from Port Alfred, George Petzer, recently attended the President’s Awards Gold Award ceremony in Sandton as one of the keynote speakers and South Africa’s first Gold Award recipient in 1985.
He addressed the more than 600 Gold Award recipients and VIP guests, encouraging the young people, including some prisoners who had enrolled in the programme, to continue improving their life skills and community service.
“The attributes and character gained through this programme will empower you to serve your community with integrity and humility. My plea to you is to get involved in caring for your environment, the less fortunate, the discriminated groups of people and the victims of crime. The President’s Gold Award is not the end of your community service, but really the beginning of a lifestyle of community service,” said Petzer.
Port Alfred High School (PAHS) former prefects and now alumni, Tali Alexandre and Adam Nolte, were recipients of the President’s Award on the evening.
“The President’s Award has been a huge part of my life for a long time,” said Alexandre, who enrolled in the programme after a girl at the school was presented with her gold award. Alexandre has since gone on to become the assistant to Laura Guest, head of marketing, alumni and development at PAHS. She is also a part of the Penny Candle Trust, the head of the President’s Award Committee and has launched her freelance social media and graphic design company, Alexx. She is the chair of DA Youth in ward 10 and the chair of an NPO called GEAR and a part of Rotary working with Interact and EarlyAct.
Nolte has not been idle and is currently at Nelson Mandela University studying psychology, passing the year with distinction, having taken 15 modules. This heavy workload has made it impossible for him to continue with community service, but he will become more involved as his schedule allows.
As for Petzer, he was awarded the Eastern Cape Provincial Policeman of the Year title in the 1990s for his pioneering efforts in establishing community policing in SA, leading to a positive reduction in crime in his area. His efforts were filmed by representatives of the UN. Petzer was the only non-commissioned officer to be chosen by national management for a three-month fact-finding tour of Europe where he studied best practices by several police agencies, including Scotland Yard, regarding community policing and the rights of the LGBT community.
Petzer was approached by the department of international development to be a part of its multimillion-rand Partners in Policing forum, in the Eastern Cape as mentor, facilitator and project manager. After three years as the community policing adviser to the SAPS area commissioner, Petzer left the police and worked as a security adviser in the film industry in Europe, returning after a seven-year stint overseas, and began working for NGOs and local communities to assist charities and residents.
Two years ago, Petzer re-joined the SAPS, and is looking forward to joining its Community in Blue concept, to strengthen the link and develop partnerships between the police and communities.
“I believe our young people have so much to offer our communities, including the fight against crime and rebuilding the fibre of our beautiful country by participating in programmes like the President’s Award and other youth organisations,” said Petzer.
“My dream, with 2030 in mind, is to see groups of young leaders, together with their adult mentors, working together in each community to make South Africa great again.”
GOING FOR GOLD: Adam Nolte, left, and Tali Alexandre were two of the latest recipients of the President’s Award Gold standard at an awards ceremony held recently in Sandton, Johannesburg