Kia ora, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, welcome to Government House for the 2015 Frances Clarke Memorial Awards. In particular I want to acknowledge: Co-ordinator Noreen MacMahon, Media and Events Co-ordinator Rhonda Rivers, and other members of the Wellington Down Syndrome Association executive; Pam and Forde Clarke, parents of the late Frances Clarke; and All Black Cory Jane, our guest speaker today.
My husband Jerry sends his best wishes. He is recovering from surgery and is unable to be here.
This is quite a special event for me. The 2011 Frances Clark Memorial Awards was the first event I hosted solo at Government House. I’m not sure if anyone realised at the time that I was very nervous. It was my first time hosting a vice-regal event without Jerry. It was also the first time I’d given a speech in public.
And with these awards, it is the last time in our term that we will host the Frances Clarke Memorial Awards. So on this occasion, there is a sense of completion that it finishes as it started, with me doing the honours.
My main memories of that event are of it being a celebration - a happy occasion where the young people had a lot of fun. One of the things that has been important to Jerry and me during our time in office is that we celebrate the achievements of New Zealanders. The award recipients I met that year, and in the years since, have all been great acheivers. Each of them has been determined to participate in as many things as possible, to make a valuable contribution to the world around them and to live a rich life full of experiences. It has been a privilege to celebrate their successes.
This year’s winners Zahra Lyford, Ella Davenport, Katrina Sneath and Paul Heyes are no exception. They are deeply involved in their schools, community organisations and hobbies; and are committed to doing their very best in everything they do. The citations for each of our recipients list a wealth of activities and interests: Ella is a keen singer and dancer; Zahra knows her way around computers and has made huge strides in reading; Katrina is an award winning public speaker, working towards a career in early childhood education and Paul has been described as a sporting legend, overcoming a stroke to represent New Zealand in Ten Pin Bowling. Those are just the edited highlights. Each of them is an achiever and a role model for others.
Of course, success doesn’t happen on its own. Today we also recognise the other people who have played their part in Ella, Zahra, Katrina and Paul’s success. Families, teachers, coaches and friends have all provided support and encouragement.
We are also recognising the efforts of the Wellington Early Intervention Trust, and the women who started it. It was founded by Diane Pepperell, Karen Erenstrom, Marion Bayne and Pam Clarke 25 years ago,and it’s fitting that they will receive the Outstanding Contribution Award during the Awards’ 25th year.Their vision and hard work led to major change in the provision of services to children with Down Syndrome. There will be many people in this room who have benefited greatly from their work.
Ella, Zahra, Katrina and Paul - you have all done amazing things, set goals ,followed your dreams, and worked hard to reach them. New Zealand Sevens Coach Sir Gordon Tietjens once said, “Good preparation equals a good chance of success.” You know how to lay the groundwork for more achievement. I wish you all the best for the future and your continued success.
Thank you very much.