Speaking at Tuesday night’s awards ceremony, Mr Bettles urged the candidates to challenge the status quo and break the rules.

“The emphasis placed on community service is at the heart of these awards, especially by young people who shape our future. There is no shortage of people lining up to give you their opinion, but listen to your heart.”

Outlining his career and the journey which ultimately led from Britain to New Zealand, Mr Bettles said loving philosophy, he spent three years studying at university.

“It was three years contemplating the meaning of life, but at 21 I still didn’t know what I wanted to do. I then went on to work towards becoming a chartered accountant. I didn’t like it and failed at it. Then I went labouring, pulling cables in the London underground. It was a brilliant job.

“I’ve been fortunate to have the right opportunities and great mentors and I’ve now been with Scanpower for 14 years where I’ve been given plenty of opportunity to set up Oringi and the sock company at Norsewood. But my journey hasn’t been straight forward.”

Scanpower had a 66 per cent increase in earnings in the past year with Mr Beetles at the helm. He holds an MBA (Distinction) from Massey University and BA (Hons) from the University of Southampton and is a member of the Tararua Vocational Pathways project for young people.

For job seekers, attitude is everything, Mr Bettles told the eight students.

“It doesn’t require a particular talent, but successful people work hard, are resilient and show compassion,” he said.

The winner of this year’s Wackrow award was Dannevirke High School student Laura Dawson, taking home the trophy and $500.

In second place was Te Haana Paewai, a student at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Tamaki Nui a Rua and third was Katherine Hughes-Long of Dannevirke High School.

“All eight here tonight are winners,” Bob Dresser, chairman of the Dannevirke Community Board, said. “This is an unique award in New Zealand and the calibre of our young people is extraordinary.

The award is given in memory of the late Constable Graeme Wackrow who was killed in a car accident while serving the the police in Dannevirke.

“Graeme has never been forgotten by police and the local community,” Inspector Sarah Stewart, the police area commander for the Manawatu, said. “This award is about recognising the community service you’ve all made. That’s what the police are about too.”

Laura Dawson referees junior hockey every Friday night and also coaches the St Joseph’s team.

“It’s cool to see the players developing,” she said. Laura has also acted as the secretary’s assistant for the Dannevirke and Districts A&P Association for the past four years and helps the Dannevirke Lions with their annual smallholders auction.

Second-placed 17-year-old Te Haana Paewai helps support families who have gone through rough times. She is also the co-leader of her school council and is a Board of Trustees representative.

Katherine Hughes-Long, a Year 12 student, referees Dannevirke JAB rugby, as well as junior tournaments and has been refereeing high school rugby games as well. Involved with the Duke of Edinburg awards, Katherine carries out tree planting for Horizons Regional Council, volunteers at the Fantasy Cave and bakes for the Cancer Society.

Since the award’s inception in 1987 organisers, the Dannevirke Community Board have sometimes struggled to find nominees, Mr Dresser said.

“It’s a bit disappointing when people don’t want to put their names forward,” he said. “So this year we’ve decided to give all the candidates, who didn’t win one of the three prizes, a participation bonus of $50.”

Tararua District mayor Roly Ellis said it was fantastic to see eight candidates nominated for this year’s award.

“The Wackrow award is very prestigious, but the Community Board has struggled to encourage nominations. It can be difficult to stand up on stage and talk about yourself. Up until I was 28 I couldn’t stand up and speak, as I had a dreadful stutter, so I know how hard it is to stand here and speak.”

Source: Hawkes Bay Today

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