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Courtney Wilson, from the communications team, has been delving through hundreds of books to showcase and celebrate 100 years of Red Cross activity in New Zealand.
Underneath the dust and crinkled pages Courtney has uncovered fascinating stories, celebrating humble heroes from the community. Stories range from World War one and two, national and international disasters, our aid workers, community involvement, refugee resettlement and more.
With an eye for discovering interesting stories, Courtney says even throughout university she would spend days on end in the library with her nose in newspapers.
“Once I get in there and start reading I don’t notice anything else from my surroundings, I’m just interested in the stories. A staff member came in once and yelled at me ‘You can’t be in here, it is way too cold!’ I honestly don’t notice, especially once I start reading. Sometimes I turn on my music, close the door and am absorbed in the stories.
“My favourite was one of the first people I came across when I started – an unemployed cane operator who was disabled and wasn’t able to go to the war. He asked every person who came into his lift to donate a cane or the money for a cane to Red Cross, and he donated the canes and the money to Red Cross to send overseas for wounded soldiers. In the end he donated over 2,000 walking sticks.”
Courtney says that we should be proud of how many humble Red Cross humanitarians there have been in the past 100 years.
One boy donated his height in pennies to a copper trail competition, which saw regions around New Zealand compete with one another to reach other cities in the length of pennies as a fundraising initiative in 1918. Auckland took out the competition, raising £93,000, which equals to $9,486,237 today.
“There is another story of a woman transport driver. All women transport drivers had to have their own car and sit a mechanics course which, in the 1940s, was a pretty big deal. They paid for their own petrol and gave up their own time. One of the women, Mildred Nicol, volunteered for the transport service and continued to volunteer for 40 years as a meals on wheels driver.
People like that really took Red Cross to heart and were really proud of the work they did.”
Make sure you check out our centenary website www.redcross.org.nz/100 for many interesting stories and photographs as well as all the different events that are happening throughout the year.
Please share with us any stories or photographs you may have to help celebrate our rich history.We’ve been around for 100 years; help us be around for 100 more.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.