Years of service in the fire service and decades as the local “go to” person for anyone needing a helping hand, has led Stephen Theobald to be recognised as a Kiwibank Local Hero 2017.
The Harcourts Kumeu business owner is now in the running to be the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year 2017, although he does not expect that honour to fall to him.
Stephen has lived and supported the wider Waimauku/ Kumeu/ Muriwai community for more than 30 years.
He was a career firefighter until an accident meant he could no longer pursue that line of work. Being a natural people person he turned to a career in real estate sales and auctioneering.
Stephen also dedicates himself to his community.
He has been a member of the local Lions Club for 28 years, serving as president several times and winning Lion’s most prestigious recognition - the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award.
He has organised the local legendary Santa Parade wheelbarrow race for 20 years, in which the whole community participates, and sees State Highway 16 closed for the event.
Despite his own children long having grown up, Stephen is always relied on to assist at local school agriculture days, Scouts and other club events etc and he regularly volunteers at Child Cancer Foundation camps.
If Stephen hears of a local person in serious need, he will try to assist, whether it be personally or through a working bee or financial assistance from the local groups he has contact with.
Stephen received his Local Hero award from Auckland Mayor Phil Goff at a special ceremony on 1 December at the MOTAT Aviation Hall.
Stephen says he was extremely humbled, especially when he saw some of the other recipients, such as Jeff Paterson the incredible 23-year-old who fought Pharmac to fund the life-saving melanoma drug Keytruda. His father collected the award on behalf of Jeff, who sadly passed away in August.
“There were such great New Zealanders there receiving Local Hero awards. It was a real privilege to be with them.”
Harcourts CEO Chris Kennedy says it is an honour to have Stephen, and his wife Debbie, as part of the Harcourts family.
“Stephen is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. He doesn’t talk about the work he does for the community, but you can see it in the respect people have for him. Having said that, I really had no idea of the extent of his community work because Stephen is a humble man.
“I can’t emphasise enough how proud we are of Stephen and Debbie.”