The Volunteer of the Month Award for March 2023 was awarded to Richard Peterson. Richard is the Chief of the Wairau Valley Fire Brigade, a local Justice of the Peace, and is a valued supporter of the Wairau Valley Community Hall Board.
With more than 25 years of service with the fire brigade, Richard took on the role of Chief about 5 years ago and is responsible for leading a vital group of people who keep us safe and could save lives. As a result of global warming and climate change, the Wairau Valley is just one of many places increasingly affected by floods and fires, and the people of the valley rely heavily on the work that they do.
When we met with Richard, his wife Jenny, and his beautiful black lab Kali out in the Wairau Valley, they welcomed us into their home to tell us more about why Richard does what he does in the Marlborough community.
"It's about paying it forward and showing some kindness", says Richard. "Just treating people nicely, helping people up, and building those networks out here so that we all look after each other."
Richard started the Wairau Valley Residents' Association over 20 years ago as a way to help form those networks and has found that his work in the fire brigade has been a wonderful way of being part of the community out there. "If you just do one thing, the rest flows", he says. In addition to being the Chief, Richard also acts as a Justice of the Peace and a Hall Board supporter. Kate Horrey, who nominated Richard, says that he "provides valued leadership and puts many, many extra volunteer hours into his work". Being a firefighter has even become a family thing with Richard's daughter having been a firefighter prior to her move to Wellington.
Outside of his volunteering, Richard and Jenny raise cattle and have a lovely soap making business - Jaymar Soap & Body.
We asked Richard what he would say to someone who was thinking about starting volunteering - "It's worth it! There's so many opportunities out there and you can give as little or as much as you want".
Thank you, Richard, for all your hard work in the Marlborough community and the Wairau Valley in particular!
Thank you to New World Blenheim for sponsoring our Volunteer of the Month award