No less than 3 speakers today, all amazing in their different ways. First up was 11 year old Cole Jackson, a young man confident way beyond his years. Cole received the Award of Excellence from Kiwi Can and gave an eloquent résumé of just how much Kiwi Can has helped him become more confident. Great stuff.
Next up was Jess Collins with a heart-rending account of her formative years which were littered with alcohol, drugs, depression ans suicidal tendencies. Project K turned her life around to such an extent that she is now studying at Massey.
On to our 'croaky' guest in the guise of Sir Graeme Dingle Botox produces beautiful larynges.{Had to Google the correct plural of larynx - Ed!}. He started by thanking the Club for its unwavering support over the past 8 years and reported on the latest initiative in Rotorua which is going great guns. Many of the most important things in his life have been taught to him by a woman and he was told during a midwinter traverse of the Southern Alps ('it was a bit cold') that life is a cup to be filled rather than a measure to be drained. His mentor, one Bill Hall insisted that Graeme went to work for him and on his first morning asked him what he wanted to do and how much he wanted to be paid (Never happened to me – Ed).
He set out to establish the first alternative to prison for kids facing a custodial sentence. As there was little political backing that turned out to be a total failure. Undaunted, he took time out with what he anticipated to be a 40 day circumnavigation of the Arctic. Big miscalculation as it took 400 days but on his return, doubtless rejuvenated, he set up Project K which was an instant success. He then set out to recruit an army of iconic New Zealanders to back him (not many can boast at having pointed a finger at Sir Ed) and the rest, as they say, is history. Sir Graeme's dream of helping Kiwi kids through the Kiwi Can and Project K organisations is a testament to his dedication and his personal goal is now to have NZ recognized as being the best place in the world for kids. And so say all of us. An inspirational address of the highest order.