If there’s a cause to collect for, Denzil Fernandez will be there. This year Denzil has assisted in collections for Pink Ribbon Street Appeal, Daffodil Day, and Blind Week, to name just a few.
A part-time volunteer at Blockhouse Bay’s Hospice Shop, this friendly, bubbly gentleman who ensures no-one leaves the shop without a cheery ‘thank-you’, will often introduce himself as “Washington, Denzil Washington” which, he says with a twinkle, ensures no-one forgets his name.
Denzil is a VIP – a Vision Impaired Person – due to Hemianopia, the result of a stroke in 2007. This condition means he is blind in half his visual field, in both eyes, and is also colour-blind.
In 2004 Denzil arrived in New Zealand with nothing. He had left behind a comfortable life in banking in his home city of Mumbai, India to pursue his dream of living in NZ, and within four days had a job at Subway.
Finding that insufficient to live on, he also worked midnight to 7am at Bakers Delight. The hours were long and the work not what he was used to, but Denzil determined to make the best of it. His wife Mary had gone back to India to honour family commitments shortly after they arrived in New Zealand and returned only after twelve months.
Gaining a temping job with the BNZ - a foot in the door which eventually became a permanent position – Denzil was now able to give up the graveyard shift at Bakers Delight. Mary, formerly a bank officer, found work at Countdown on the night shift.
Driving to the bank one day, Denzil felt strange. He stopped for a while and after feeling better, he carried on. He worked all day but by the time he arrived home in the evening, he had lost feeling in his right side and his vision was blurry. He was rushed to hospital, but the damage was done.
The stroke was debilitating and heralded a very challenging time for them both. Denzil began his long journey of recovery, beginning with a month’s stay at an ashram in India, where, under a regime of therapy including a vegetarian diet to cleanse his system, and daily intensive massaging with oils, his body began its healing process.
Mary also faced huge changes: she was now the principal decision-maker for the family, and also had to learn to manage the household accounts which was previously Denzil’s domain.
However, they are both very determined people.
Denzil’s physical recovery took around six years. He had lost much of his memory - numbers, dates, his ability to count and solve problems had all been wiped due to the injury to his brain. He also suffered seizures. “I didn’t know what was happening until the doctors explained it”, Denzil recalls. Fortunately, medication eventually brought that under control.
The BNZ held his job open for a year, but Denzil was unable to return to work. His wife Mary, who was now working at the HSBC Bank, said, “Don’t worry, we’ll manage.” Parishioners of St Dominic’s Church in Blockhouse Bay, the couple both have a strong faith. They look at the positives and attribute their good fortune to God’s providence and their resolve to not give up.
The Blind Foundation was instrumental in Denzil getting his life back. They began a process designed to restore independence: working with him daily on moving about his home; then walking with him around the block; then to the village. Eventually he was taught to independently catch the train to Newmarket, and from there walk to the Blind Institute in Parnell.
Nowadays, Denzil has a weekly routine which includes the Senior’s group at Church of the Saviour and Communicare at Blockhouse Bay Baptist, engaging in activities such as board games, crafts and bowls, which are all helping to create new pathways in his brain. He also works two days a week at the Hospice Shop, and in fact was their first volunteer when they opened ten years ago.
“Mary and I have had some hard times, but we consider ourselves truly blessed”, says Denzil.
Rod McLeay, lifelong resident of Avondale, received the Queen’s Service Medal at the Investiture in Government House in September.
The honour was for service to Music and Education.
Rod has taught in West Auckland schools for forty years. Most of his lunchtimes were spent teaching musical instruments - recorder, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet and trombone to interested pupils. As well he trained the Concert Band for the Auckland Primary Principals’ Association Town Hall Music Festival for many years, and conducted the Auckland Youth Symphonic Band for forty-one years.
Rod says, “Music has been a very rewarding hobby for me, it has made me many friends and I have had a wonderful life because of it.”
No matter what our age we need both physical activity for good health, and quality relationships with other people for good mental health. As we get older, we need to increase our level of activity just to maintain a historical level of fitness.
Good health - both physical and mental - can be achieved through strategic recreational activities such as bike riding, walking or gym classes with a group of other regulars.
Retiring and relocating sparked for us both a need for increased activity for good health, and the need to rethink our regular points of people contact so that we met new people and developed new friendships.
A strategic selection of recreational pursuits can provide both activity for physical health and the opportunity to develop new points of contact with people for good mental health. Three groups my wife and I have joined are a recreational cycling group (Café Cruisers); a Monday walking group; and a local gym for group core exercises.
We have always enjoyed cycling but the added dimension of meeting with like-minded people is great. As you can tell our cycle group is focused on relationship first, exercise second, but there are many other groups both social and serious.
Walking is a new activity for us, but again walking with others forces engagement and relationship, and walking groups can be found in most communities.
There are plenty of gyms to meet all needs, and while I have a dislike of gym work as a solo, a class brings an element of encouragement as well as relationship.
Regular commitment to these activities has helped maintain our fitness and good health while providing valuable relationships with people.
The hard truth is, there is really no excuse for being lonely or unfit. You have to be strategic and take a risk and join a recreational group. Search for a group, for an activity you like and make contact. It’s that easy. You may be surprised how welcoming the group is.
Affectionately known as the ‘Ice Breaker’ Regatta by the New Lynn Sea Scouts, the first weekend of spring saw them head down to Lake Rotoroa (Hamilton Lake) for the 46th annual Spring Regatta - a family day of canoeing, rowing and sailing amongst other Scout Groups, Young Mariners and Sea Cadets.
The junior rowing race was a great example of highlighting some of what Scouting can offer in the right environment: development of teamwork and growth of self-confidence and belief.
New Lynn had two teams in the junior rowing race: one experienced (who comfortably won their race), and a second, very novice crew. Five of the seven crew had never rowed before and for some it was their first time in a boat! Some were conscious their personal lack of experience may impact on other members of the crew in a race environment and it took some convincing to give it a go. Afterall their training would be their row out to the start line!
When one of their leaders suggested they would succeed if they treat it as a learning experience, focusing on teamwork (communication and rowing in time) rather than trying to go fast, they were still sceptical.
Though they rowed one of the slowest stroke rates during the race, they rowed in time due to good communication and patience, in the end finishing mid-fleet. Their teamwork allowed them to beat other more experienced teams who largely rowed as individuals, their boats struggling to make headway.
“As a Scout leader it’s so rewarding to see youth go from self-doubt to realising they can achieve far more than they ever anticipated,” says Andrew, one of the leaders.
New Lynn Sea Scouts caters for boys and girls aged 5 - 19 years. Contact Andrew on 027 6939 756 or check out www.newlynn.seascouts.org.nz for more details.
By day Carolyn Gibson works at Harvey Furnishings in New Lynn, but in her spare time Carolyn can usually be found working on her latest WoW creation.
The 2019 World of Wearable Arts (WoW) show was the fifth year Carolyn has entered. While she was not placed this time, she has enjoyed remarkable success for her previous entries, winning the New Zealand Design title in 2016 with Voyage to Revolution and again in 2017 with The Seeker. Her 2015 entry Crystallisation was a finalist in the First Time Entrant category, as was Beautiful Destroyer, her 2018 entry in the Under the Microscope category.
This year Carolyn designed Rock Me Amadeus for the White category, however, with sparkling diamantes on her creation which are not technically white, she was transferred to the Open category.
Rock Me Amadeus which took seven months to complete, encompasses a cello made from pliable plastic covered with white faux leather. The costume was made from upholstery fabric which was hand appliquéd with brocade cut-outs, embellished with diamanté, and features 115 roses, incorporating 950 hand-cut petals. Everything on the design is handmade, apart from the bow which comes from a violin.
As a master milliner – hat maker – it was logical for Carolyn to start from the top down. “I started with the head piece first. I envisaged it with a tall baroque-style wig, and that was the inspiration for the rest of the design,” she says.
At age 15 Carolyn began a 4-year millinery apprenticeship. Moving to Canada in her twenties, she found there was no demand for her hat-making skills, so she retrained as a hairdresser. However, her design skills found an outlet in the Fantasy Hair Design competition, which she won five years in a row, sparking her love of design competition.
Returning to New Zealand in the early nineties, Carolyn opened a bridal shop in Henderson, combining veils and hats with her hairdressing skills. Later she opened a millinery shop in Mt Albert, Le Chapeau, her hats winning several awards at the Christchurch and Ellerslie Fashions in the Field Events, including podium places for the overall competition which earned two trips to the Melbourne Cup.
Carolyn has taught millinery internationally, in Canada and Australia, as well as in New Zealand, and now teaches from home.
As for WoW 2020? Carolyn has already begun work on her design, and is keeping that a closely guarded secret!
You’ve probably seen the signs: New Lynn Lions’ Club $1 book sales. These monthly events have been an institution for years - a great way to de-clutter the bookshelves at home, as well as pick up some bargains.
But did you know that the money raised from these book sales goes to many worthwhile causes? Annual donations are made to several worthwhile organisations: Arthritis NZ, CCS Disability Action, Blind Foundation, Asthma & Respiratory Foundation, Diabetes NZ, Piha Lifesavers Foundation, Autism NZ and Dementia Auckland to name a few.
However, they also make donations to other, more local, causes.
Avondale Feed the Streets and Avondale Community Fridge and Pantry both benefited recently from grocery and kitchen items donated by club members, and on top of that the club donated $500 worth of groceries from the book sales proceeds. Some of these items were used at their fortnightly dinners, and other went into the pantry for people to take when they were struggling to make ends meet or homeless.
At a recent book sale they also organised a grocery collection for Ronald McDonald House, with the groceries donated by members and book sale patrons delivered the same day, much appreciated by the recipients.
The New Lynn Lions’ book sale is held at the New Lynn Friendship Club Hall, 3063 Great North Road, New Lynn, usually on the third Saturday of the month (December’s is the 14th) from 8am to 4pm. All books, DVDs, CDs, LPs and jigsaw puzzles are only $1 and magazines are five for $1. Books include fiction for both children and adults, travel, sports, biographies and loads more.
Books and other items for donation can be dropped off on Thursdays between 9-11am at the hall, or on the day of the sale.
Church of the Saviour (COTS) has welcomed their new Priest-in-Charge, Reverend Shashikant Christian.
Having served in the church and mission services since 1987 both in India and New Zealand, Shashi arrived with his family in 2001. They have been with the Anglican church in New Zealand since 2002 and are thrilled to have this opportunity to be at COTS.
Shashi enjoys chai and conversations pertaining to worldviews and cultures, to explore their impact on our lives, society, economics, politics and faith, and loves to chat about his faith in Jesus. He is a teacher, and brings unique perspectives from varied cultural and faith backgrounds.
Speaking in local congregations as well as international conferences, Shashi has travelled extensively: India, Asia, Africa, North America, Europe and Australasia, lecturing on church history from a non-western perspective. He has a fascinating life story.
Shashi speaks to the congregations at COTS on most Sundays (both morning 9am & 11am and evening 7pm) as well as on Wednesday 9.30am.
The popular Gayle Prescott Dance School is venturing into fitness and well-being, offering multiple Pilates, barre, and stretch classes for all ages and abilities during the lead-up to summer. The idea is to get people moving together and promote a healthy lifestyle amongst the community.
Pilates is great for building core strength and control, body awareness, balance and correct posture. It is also a great rehab option for those recovering from injuries. Barre is a higher intensity workout – think basic ballet steps to catchy music and other interesting Pilates-based exercises that are designed to strengthen and lengthen muscles. The stretch classes will have you walking out calmer as they work on taking away unnecessary tension in the body and relieving stiffness in the joints.
Studio director, Rebecca, has a huge passion for physical activity. “The benefits of physical exercise go on and on. It’s number one on the list for maintaining cognitive function and staving off diseases like Alzheimers and various cancers and cardiovascular diseases.”
Rebecca also believes in delivering classes that are small enough to be personalised. Let her know if you’re dealing with injuries, pre or post-natal, and she’ll give you ways to modify your movements throughout the class.
It’s a great feeling being in a social environment while you’re exercising – moving and challenging yourself alongside others with the same motivations and goals as you.
Now is the time to kickstart a fitness routine for yourself, and meet others along the way! For class times and more information, email email@example.com.
If you’ve driven through Blockhouse Bay on any given Monday or Wednesday morning around 8.30am, you must have seen them... the army of fit looking grey-haired walkers pounding the streets. They are the Y’s Walkers.
The walking group which has been going for three decades is still going strong and welcomes new members. Age is not a barrier, with walkers in their eighties and nineties still going strong.
There are 25 walks done in rotation, so they differ each day, taking you through parks and reserves, and around roads and alleyways most people never knew existed, some with breath-taking views out over the Manukau Harbour.
There are three walking levels to cater for everyone; the short group walks for up to 30 minutes, the medium group walks for about an hour, and the long group walks for 1½ to 2 hours. Each group ends up back in the Bay where some then meet at a café for more socialising.
A big favourite is their monthly away walks where they board a bus at 8.30am and head off to other locations, usually for a half day, offering the chance to walk places many have never been to before.
Many of the club members have been living in the area for years and are active in many other local groups – they know a lot about the area and have seen many changes. So, if you are newly retired, or your kids have just started school, or you have recently moved to the area and want to make new friends, they’d love to welcome you.
Contact Basil Williamson on 626-3230 or 027-306-9658, or Pieter de Veld on 626-3381 or 022-301-3623
About 40 interested people turned up at the first Shed Matters meeting held last month to gauge interest in the concept.
Shed matters is a group which aims to provide a space for those who have no access to tools to be able to use or hire them, and continue to be active. It also aims to be a place where creating, building and repairing skills are passed on to those who want to learn them.
Wider engagement in the community is also part of the vision as groups from Shed Matters offer help for local projects, families and individuals.
Currently, Shed Matters is a core group with a great idea, but judging from the interest and feedback on hearing the vision for the project, it became obvious that this is an idea that will be going places.
Principal co-ordinator Shelley West says, “We’re really encouraged by the response, and the range of people who showed interest - many of whom have years of tool-related experience. And it was good to get some more ideas sparking off what we presented. It’s given us a solid direction.”
If you would like to know more about Shed Matters, contact Shelley on 021 290 0856 or firstname.lastname@example.org.