Halswell Domain

Halswell Domain
View from the Model Engineers' site in the Halswell Domain

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Familiar Face Ron Fensom QSM

Ron Fensom is a familiar face in Halswell firstly, because he has lived here since 1960 and secondly, because he has devoted all of his spare time to community service, achieving much and collecting a number of awards along the way.

The Halswell Lions Club, of which Ron joined as a founding member in 1978, gave Ron a President's Appreciation Award for outstanding service in 1993/1994. The Riccarton Wigram Community Board have awarded Ron twice; with a Community Service Award in 2000 and with a Certificate of Appreciation for unparalleled commitment and dedicated long service to the Halswell area, in 2016. Making the Queen's Birthday list of honours in 2004, Ron was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for community service. In 2006, The Christchurch City Council gave him the Civic Award for services to his community. More recently, the Halswell Residents Association presented Ron with a quarry rock trophy engraved 'Ron Fensom Q.S.M Lord Mayor of Halswell' for having the vision to form the Halswell Residents Association and for chairing it for 22 years. As if all this isn't enough, Ron is also a former Jaycee, a founding member of the Halswell Probus group, and a member of the Templeton Returned Servicemen Association.

Ron attributes his love of community work to growing up in the little West coast town of Kumara that was always "pitching in together." His mother, although she passed away at the age of 29, was an influence too, as she was a tireless community worker. Ron settled in Christchurch, where he met his future wife Jennifer and the pair moved to Halswell to raise their three children. Earning a living as as a plant engineer at Hornby Glassworks and later, Lane Walker Rudkin, Ron was often on call day and night. After this, he worked as a sales engineer for Andrews and Beaven, which he thoroughly enjoyed, travelling throughout the South Island giving lectures on energy efficiency.

Today, Halswell residents continue to benefit from the things that Ron and the clubs and committees that he belongs to, have campaigned for. There are far too many to list but some that come to mind are: the bus route being directed to go past the hospital, the Annual Anzac Parade, the Halswell War Memorial Restoration, the Halswell and Halswell Junction intersection upgrade, public meetings on local issues, court battles to save buildings, new footpaths, pedestrian crossings, cycleways, mitigation systems for Lillian St flooding, speed limits, new ward boundaries and so on. Ron through the Lions Club, has been able to be involved with many other local projects as well as attending seven district conventions and one international convention.

The project that Ron is most proud of is chairing forty-two meetings over fifteen years, in order to retain the extension of the Domain so sports facilities could be expanded there. Yet, Ron reveals a lovely humble attitude, when explaining some of his motivations: " I'm just an ordinary guy," "I learnt how to project manage while I was an engineer," "I think a dream without action is a figment of your imagination," and "You can get a lot done if you enjoy what you are doing." Ron is not an "ordinary guy." The long list of awards testifies to this. He has worked tirelessly and courageously to leave Halswell with a stronger identity through historical projects, and also to make changes and provisions for the current and future needs of this area. For those of us who are newer residents, it is good to know of the upstanding citizens who fought to make Halswell the wonderful community minded place that it's known for today. May we not be too busy building our lives, that we do not contribute to the place around us, or be the generation that does not see beyond our own needs. Ron Fensom Q.S.M has a remarkable legacy that we all are the receiptants of. He is, and possibly always will be the 'Lord Mayor of Halswell.'

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Familiar Face: Miss Annie

Annie Finlayson is well known to many people in this area as she has been teaching at Aidanfield Christian School for twenty years. She has also taught in several other schools in Invercargill,  Dunedin and Christchurch accruing a total of forty five years unbroken teaching experience.  Incredibly, she has never lost passion for her job. Her smiling  face is testament to the joy she feels and after all this time,  she still has the knack of making new students and their families  feel incredibly important. Being  very much appreciated by the students, parents and colleagues around her, the recent school drama production of  "Annie" was dedicated to her.

"Miss Annie" as she is affectionately called, grew up in Mosgiel, Timaru and had a stint in a Nelson boarding school.  Both of her parents valued academic education and Annie can remember "loving everything about school." She vividly recalls observing a teacher taking the attendance register when she was seven and thought  "how cool that was."   Becoming a teacher was a most natural step for her.

"Supportive" is how Annie describes her teaching style.   At the start of the day, she greets the children and tries to get an idea of how the children are feeling.  "It makes it easier to start the day on a positive note and the children go with it." From there, she "tries to get the important stuff done: numeracy and literacy."  Her manner is confirmed by   present-day students who say "when Miss Annie tells you off, you don't feel angry; you feel sad because you have disappointed her and you decide not to it again." Other students describe her as "gentle, kind and understanding." Annie simply says " She loves kids, and that teaching is the only job that she has ever wanted to do."

Favourite memories for Annie include the children's successes, their eureka moments, a the day to day learning.  Annie reminisces: "the five year old who came into the class yelling 'I can write my name!'; the shy smiles of children when they realize they can do this; the classmates who reach out and say 'come into my group' and the parents who are overwhelmed with whether their wee treasures' learning is secure or not, and need encouragement that it is not over yet."  Many students have stayed in touch and Annie  has enjoyed  hearing of the  birthdays, weddings and new babies  of her ex-pupils.  Similarly, meeting former students in the community who still recognise her has also been a highlight.

Often central to Annie's thoughts and conversation is her own family: son James, daughter-in-law  Jo and grandchildren Maia,  Nico and Cooper.  Annie "Being a grandmother is amazing and always a joy. They are my precious treasures," effuses Annie.   Spending more time with them, as well as going shopping and drinking coffee with friends is what she looks forward to.

Annie is leaving behind a wonderful positive legacy of teaching and relationships. Fortunately, Aidanfield won't lose her completely, as she will most likely be back as a relief teacher.