Civic awards recognise community service

Derek McCullough, Mt Pleasant Community Centre rebuilt has been recognised with a Civic Award. PHOTO: Martin Hunter

A tireless worker for the rebuild of the Mt Pleasant Community Centre has been recognised with a civic award.

Derek McCullough said he was “really chuffed” to have been recognised.

“It’s such a nice feeling. Unexpected, but wonderful.”

He was among 12 groups and individuals acknowledged for outstanding service to the community at a ceremony at the Arts Centre last week.

The Friends of the Akaroa Museum was recognised for its commitment to preserving the past.

The awards were presented by Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

Mr McCullough was awarded for his two decades of involvement with the Mt Pleasant Memorial Community Centre and Residents Association and for the work he has put in since the earthquakes to get the centre back up and running.

World Buskers Festival founder Jodi Wright nominated him for the award. The pair have known each other from the
early 1990s when Ms Wright started the festival and Mr
McCullough was getting his first Blues, Brews and BBQs event under way.

He said it was particularly poignant to be recognised for his work after the earthquakes, as it had been a challenging time. “Our house fell down so we were managing that at the same time as the rebuild of the centre, as well as looking after my mother and my in-laws who all had Alzheimer’s disease.”

Taking a key role in fundraising, council liaison and as chairman, Mr McCullough helped oversee the transformation of the centre from a 1950s community hall to a modern, light and airy community centre which is oriented to look over the estuary.

It’s a now a busy place, with up to 50 groups and classes using the spaces each week, as well as a dedicated cafe.

Friends of Akaroa Museum was awarded for their ongoing support of Akaroa Museum and commitment to preserving the past and sharing the stories of Banks Peninsula’s history.

Chairman David Miller said it was “gratifying” to be recognised by the city council.

The group had taken on an advocacy role after earthquake damage caused the museum’s closure in 2012.

“We’ve been pushing (the city council) hard on the rejuvenation so this is a tremendous acknowledgement of the friends’ work with them and the museum trust board.”

Museums like Akaroa were important because they reflected the local area and its history in a way that large museums can’t, said Dr Miller.

“It’s a repository of voices of many former Akaroa residents. It houses items of local and national significance, reflects what’s been going on in the area for the last 200 years and is beloved by the community because it’s for the community.”

Paying tribute to the award recipients, Ms Dalziel said their selflessness and generosity had not gone unnoticed and the city was grateful for their contribution.

“It is the people in your community who want to see you or your organisation honoured in this way.  The award is but a small token of the appreciation we have for the work you have done. People like you make our city and Banks Peninsula what they are. And you make us all proud.’’