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'Action man' Smith honoured

'Action man' Smith honoured
Methven man Ron Smith is a recipient of the Queen’s Service Medal for Services to the Community and Land Search and Rescue.

Queen’s Service Medal recipient Ron Smith is credited with spearheading a fundamental change in Land Search and Rescue that’s made it what it is today.
The retired Methven businessman has received the QSM for services to the community, as well as LandSAR.
Smith devoted 31 years to the organisation, in key local roles and ultimately as the national director for the maximum-allowed tenure of six years.
He has belonged to eight community organisations, including the Methven Lions Club, where he is treasurer and has served as president.
The 70-year-old was surprised at being awarded the QSM in the King’s Birthday and Coronation Honours, not thinking that he’d “ever be in the running” for it. But he was appreciative and touched that others regarded him highly enough to nominate him.
His dedication to service stems from his being a people person, and one who believes in less talk more action and leading from the front.
He started training with LandSAR in 1989, building on the skills he already had as a “hunter and gatherer”.
“People join search and rescue because they care.
“They go out in all sorts of weather to help total strangers. And there is nothing like the feeling of finding someone and seeing the reaction from their families when you return them.”
Smith’s contribution to LandSAR comes from his philosophy of an organisation’s members being its major source of talent.
This was behind LandSAR going from relying on external contractors to training volunteers from its membership base, which is 3500 nationwide.
“We used to have to go to the government to get funding to buy raincoats for volunteers.”
He is a great believer in bringing in new blood, new methods and technology.
“It makes for a strong organisation.”
His service has been on two levels: Supporting and passing on knowledge to others and being part of the hands-on work.
Smith’s recent project, undertaken with a friend and made possible through the Lions, was repairing and rejuvenating the 12km Methven Walkway, making it accessible for everyone.
“It keeps growing, and appears to be never-ending,” he joked.
In the day preceding the honours announcement, Smith and his wife Ally had been finding it difficult not to let the cat out of the bag to their four children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
“I’m not an attention seeker, but it’s been hard to keep it to ourselves.”

- By Julie Moffett