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Community Spirit Alive and Well in Blenheim

Last Modified: 23-6-2017 15:14

In a relatively small community like Blenheim, it's sometimes easy to make comparisons with larger centres, and look at all the things we don't have. It's also easy to sit back and see things that need doing, but want someone else to fix them. Fortunately not everyone takes that attitude, and there are plenty of people doing their bit to make a better place. On Saturday, two events stood out that highlighted Marlburians' can-do attitude to making Marlborough and the world a better place.

In the afternoon, celebrations were held marking the 25th anniversary of Riversdale Community House. One of only three community houses in the country, the house may not look anything out of the ordinary, but demonstrates the remarkable forsight and dedication of various residents and community leaders to provide a community facility in a part of Blenheim that tends to be overlooked in the grand scheme of things.

One of the people involved in the community house has been Ralph Ballinger, a successful horticulturalist, now in the sunset years of his life, and yet an incredible inspiration to future generations for his passion and commitment to serving the community. During the celebrations of the community house, a walk was organised taking in among other locations Ballinger Park, and the recently created Community Gardens, on land provided by Mr. Ballinger. Of course no community vision can be realised without a team effort, and although Ralph Ballinger has been one of the key figures, many other people from all walks of life have contributed to what has been achieved in Riversdale over the years. Although many of these people are now elderly, there seem to be plenty of younger people prepared to take up the baton and run with the vision.

Saturday night saw a very different event, in the form of the Canterbury Earthquake Mayoral Fund Charity Ball at Secret Garden restaurant. Organised over only a few weeks by the young staff team at Secret Garden, and supported by a number of local businesses and media, the event provided an evening of fine dining and entertainment, complete with red carpet and plenty of glitz and glamour, with all proceeds going to the earthquake relief fund. In spite of good advertising, the event wasn't fully booked, however those who didn't go missed out on a wonderful evening, which would have been good value in itself, but with all proceeds going to a good cause, the event was made even more special.

The manager, Antz Alderson and his team did a great job, along with the entertainers ranging from a local kapahaka group, to a young Thai violinist, to several female vocalists. Sometimes giving to charity can be challenging when there are so many good causes, and giving can stretch givers, but when the giving is done in a fun way like this it lightens the load considerably. Once again, just as with Riversdale, this event was only possible as a team effort.

These two events might contrast strongly with each other, with one being a celebration of years of work , by people many of whom are now elderly, while the other was organised at short notice by a young team, but the enthusiasm and the desire to do something positive in the community is the same.

Riversdale Community House

Above: Riversdale Community House

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