Throughout our District, there are many people who work quietly away at making our communities better places to live, often with little recognition and no pay. At considerable personal expense and sacrifice, these individuals make substantial efforts toward achieving the ambitions and goals of their community. Their commitment, generosity and dedication are unquestionable and the Thames-Coromandel District Council’s Community Service Awards is a way of giving some well-deserved recognition to these unsung heroes of our communities. At its meeting of 20 February 2018, our Council approved the judging panel of Mayor Sandra Goudie and South-East Ward Councillor Jan Bartley, Mercury Bay Ward Councillor Tony Fox and Thames Ward Councillor Rex Simpson. Our Council holds the Community Service Awards every two years and calls for nominations around March of even-numbered years. This year's judging panel was composed of Councillors Jan Bartley, Tony Fox and Rex Simpson. For these 2018 awards, Mayor Sandra thought that rather than handing out just a certificate, a commemorative medal of thanks from the district was a more fitting and long-lasting tribute. On the front of the medal is the emblem of the old Thames Borough Council coat of arms, resplendent with a mining head frame and poppet head. The back of the medal is a koru-shaped heart emblem, reflecting the colours of the Coromandel's deep blue seas and sandy shores and a link to communities being at the heart of the district. The medal was designed by local graphic design artist Melissa McGregor of Modo Design. The first medal was awarded to Merv George, a Whitianga local who has been recognised for more than 40 years' service to the Whitianga Volunteer Fire Brigade, including 34 years as the local chief fire officer. All Merv has ever wanted to do was help others, and he dedicated 40-plus years of his life doing that. On the front of the medal is the emblem of the old Thames Borough Council coat of arms, resplendent with a mining head frame and poppet head. The back of the medal is a koru-shaped heart emblem, reflecting the colours of the Coromandel's deep blue seas and sandy shores and a link to communities being at the heart of the district. 2018 Community Service Award Recipients Keith Stephenson Keith was nominated for organising the 'K2 Bike Race' for the last 17 years, the 'Adventure Race' for the last 18 years, the 'Kauri Run' for the last 19 years and for his support around community events. Laurie Franks Laurie was nominated for the Tairua Care and Friendship Club, in which has been a member for 18 years, and president for 16 years - he has also been the Transport Coordinator, DHB representative and Grants Officer. Laurie was instrumental in the organization of the refurbishment of the Tairua Hall and upgrading of the old library building. Laurie is the founding member of the Probus Club (now known as the Focus Club) and he was elected president for the year 2004/5. James (Jim) Scott Mr Scott could not attend the 26 June 2018 awards ceremony; instead his certificate and medal were presented at the 7 August Council meeting. Jim was nominated for the Mercury Bay Medical Trust which he is the trustee of, also for being a member and secretary for the Matarangi Ratepayers Association for 18 years, Resident Management Group, members and supporter of the Kauri 2000/Rings Beach Project, Mercury Bay Arts Escape and co-worker on community plans.