Blind man honoured for services to New Plymouth

Published: Tue 10 Nov 2009 11:31 AM
Blind man honoured for services to New Plymouth community
A Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind (RNZFB) member and New Plymouth District Councillor has been recognised for his services to both the local community and the wider blindness community within New Zealand. On Saturday, Lance Girling-Butcher was awarded the RNZFB Chairman’s Award for 2009.
Lance was working as editor of the Taranaki Daily News when his vision loss forced him into early retirement. While receiving eye treatment in hospital, he shared a room with an RNZFB staff member, who helped him access valuable support through the Foundation. In October 2007, he was elected to the New Plymouth District Council, becoming the first known blind person to be elected to a New Zealand District Council.
“I want to thank the RNZFB for the support given to me over three years, also my wife, family, council staff, elected members, and the Accident Compensation Corporation. Winning the award is embarrassing but I hope it serves to remind people that blindness late in life doesn’t need to be the end of life. It’s possible to be active and fully occupied even though it takes a little bit more work,” says Lance.
In presenting the award, RNZFB Chairman Don McKenzie said, “Lance is a role model using his many talents for the benefit of the local community. He has contributed to a number of policy and environmental design changes, resulting in better opportunities and accessibility for blind people. According to his colleagues, he is a positive, hard working and effective civic leader. The New Plymouth community is all the richer for his input”.
New Plymouth Mayor Peter Tennent further applauded Lance as a worthy recipient of the Chairman’s Award: “Lance is one of the most professional and dedicated Councillors I’ve had the privilege to work with”.
“He has a wealth of local knowledge and experience to apply to his role in local government and he lets no obstacle stand in the way of his passion for the community. I’m thrilled Lance has been recognised for his leadership in Taranaki, and for the inspiration he provides to people around New Zealand.”
Each year the RNZFB’s Chairman is faced with the challenging task of selecting one person who has made an outstanding contribution to the blind community. Recipients of the award are gifted a $500 cheque and a Kauri trophy by artist Ian Reid.

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