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EAST Coast man Hughie Hughes' 60 years of work with St John were recognised with two honours in the 2021 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards.

Mr Hughes received the Outstanding Achievement by an Individual award in the Health Volunteer of the Year category.

He was also presented an Outstanding Achievement award in the Long Service category.

Minister of Health Andrew Little presented the awards at a ceremony at the Grand Hall at Parliament.

The awards recognise the thousands of unsung heroes and volunteers who go above the call of duty and dedicate their time to support health and disability services.

The announcement of the award recipients was delayed due to the Covid-19 outbreak so St John was thrilled to be able to celebrate the winners.

More than 8000 St John volunteers contribute millions of hours to communities across New Zealand each year, enabling a wide range of services including community and youth programmes, event health services, emergency ambulance services and fundraising.

Volunteers were vital to the health and wellbeing of the people in their community, said St John national operations manager (emergency ambulance volunteers) James Stewart.

“We are incredibly proud of all our volunteers who have been recognised for their significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of their communities.

“They are role models who have made a difference to St John and the people they serve. To be honoured with these awards reflects their sheer value.”

Mr Hughes has been involved with St John for over 50 years and has held many roles.

He has served within the St John youth programme and the local area committee, and more recently has been pivotal in operating the St John health shuttle service in Tikitiki.

St John deputy chief executive (community health and iwi engagement) Sarah Manley said Mr Hughes had given an extraordinary amount of care and energy to his community over the decades.

“St John's charitable community health services play an important role in building resilience and helping people live strong, independent lives for longer.

“These services are run primarily by volunteers like Hughie, who is one of our outstanding volunteers, making it possible for people to get to and from their vital medical appointments they otherwise wouldn't get to,” she says.

“Hughie epitomises a true community hero.”

Mr Hughes said he was chuffed to receive the awards.

“But I must point out that other people do the mahi. They drive the people to their appointments. I just do the organising. It's a unique service for the East Coast, and I am proud to be part of it.

“I'm proud that it's being run by our own people, at our own cost, and using money that's been raised from our own district.”

SHUTTLE SERVICE: The organiser of the East Coast Health Shuttle Service, Hughie Hughes, has received awards from the Minister of Health for his voluntary contributions to the health of people on the Coast. The service was launched at Tikitiki earlier this year. From left are Rev Boycie Te Maro, Julie Taverner, Mr Hughes, Lil Rerewa Pomana and Vencie Heartshorne. Picture by Paul Rickard
‘CHUFFED': That was East Coast man Hughie Hughes' reaction to receiving two awards at the 2021 Minister of Health Volunteer Awards. Mr Hughes is pictured with Minister of Health Andrew Little at the presentation ceremony in Wellington. Mr Hughes made special mention of the work done by others. 'I just do the organising.' Picture by Jo Moore Photographer