Founder of Eldernet receives honour

COMMUNITY-MINDED: Founder of online comprehensive information service Eldernet Eleanor Bodger has been recognised in the New Years Honours.

Twenty-two years ago Eleanor Bodger established Eldernet to help people reaching their twilight years make some of the biggest decisions in their life.

Now the 66-year-old has been recognised with a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit Award for services to seniors in the New Year Honours List.

“One of the things that people commonly think about ageing is by the time you get older you have made the biggest decisions in your life. But an actual fact that is not true,” she said.

In the 90s, information to help older people and their families make informed decisions during some of the most crucial moments in their life was hard to come by, Ms Bodger said.

In 1997, when the internet was just beginning to take off, she took an opportunity to create the online comprehensive information service Eldernet.

Each month the online database has millions of hits.

It provides directories of rest home and retirement villages, home help services, and lifestyle information broadly covering travel, technology, and financial assistance.

Ms Bodger said she was “absolutely flabbergasted” to receive the award.

“Once I got over being flabbergasted I was so thrilled and honoured that the work we have been doing for a long time I guess has been found to be useful to people,” Ms Bodger said.

It was during the February 22, 2011, earthquake Eldernet commissioned a report into the aged-care sector response to the emergency.

“In terms of that broader stuff, of course, older people were significantly affected and many died before they saw their issues addressed with their own home,” Ms Bodger said.

But she said many older people living in rest homes were more concerned about what was happening with staff, their families and children.

“I think that was maybe part of the ageing process of having that really generalist and much more universal view of life.”

Ms Bodger’s first introduction to the aged care sector was when she started working as a nurse at Nurse Maude in the late 1970s.

From there, she delved into social and community work and has since had many highlights in her career.

“I love meeting people and I guess the highlight for me is with the elder network we can be on the road up to three months of the year going around the country,” she said.

Ms Bodger, along with about three of her staff including her daughter Esther Perriam will travel around talking to groups and organisations.

“We get a huge overview of

what is happening in the area at any given time and it is pretty exciting to be able to do that,” she said.

Woolston resident Edward Bohan has also been recognised in the New Year Honours list.

He was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to music, historical research and literature.

Mr Bohan has made significant contributions as a singer since the 1960s and as a historian and author from the 1970s.

He established his career as a singer in the United Kingdom between 1964 and 1987 and developed an extensive repertoire of more than 170 choral, orchestral, and operatic works before returning to New Zealand.

Mr Bohan has since

performed with the Canterbury Opera, Wellington City Opera and the State Opera of South Australia.

He has sung regularly with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Concert FM for Radio New Zealand and has performed without charge at various community and charity events.

Mr Bohan was a member of the artistic panel of Canterbury Opera and has been influential in the career development of other high profile New Zealand opera singers.

He has authored biographies, histories and historical fiction and has published 18 books, including the biographies Edward Stafford, New Zealand’s First Statesman (1994) and To Be a Hero: A biography of Sir George Grey (1998), which were both finalists in the Montana Book Awards.

Mr Bohan’s other works include a series of historical detective novels featuring Inspector Patrick O’Rorke, the most recent of which was published in 2017.