A beacon of knowledge in Waikaia community

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QSM Mairi Dickson, Waikaia. For services to the community

FOR Mairi Dickson, the desire to help and to make a positive difference in the lives of other people and her community was a characteristic she was born with.

At 85 years old, the Waikaia resident is a local reference for about 100 people who live in the “wee community” in Southland.

“If someone needs anything, they call me,” she said with a laugh.

“It has always been a very supportive community and what I love most is the friendliness. Everybody knows each one by their first name and knows what everyone is doing.”

Mrs Dickson grew up just down the road at Freshford, lived away for a bit, then in 1979 her husband, Ray, bought the Waikaia garage.

They returned to her hometown and since then, she has held a range of voluntary positions in her community, including secretary of Waikaia Red Cross, a St John Ambulance first responder, and Waikaia Leisure Craft’s chairwoman.

Mrs Dickson has been also treasurer of the Waikaia/Riversdale RSA, Waikaia Progress League and Waikaia Community Centre, where she also held the secretary role.

For the past 30 years, she has been working as a school bus driver started as an extra form of income but which she fell in love with as she “really enjoys being around children”.

Her bus was used for various community needs, such as transporting Red Cross members and dive units conducting search and rescue operations.

Mrs Dickson also volunteered her first aid skills for local rugby matches and school events.

From all the achievements in her life, she considered the fundraising of $1.7 million towards building a new Switzers Museum which she served as the committee’s chairwoman.

“It took 30 years and what makes me most proud is many people in the community worked hard to make it happen. I felt very passionate about it.”

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