Ann and Robert Campbell

Ann and Robert Campbell

Citation Speech for Ann and Robert Campbell

The old saying goes that behind every great man is a great woman. But that’s not a fair statement to make about Ann and Robert Campbell. For 60 years, they have approached their lives as a team and achieved many wonderful things for the people of the Manawatū and that’s why they’re both worthy recipients of Community Honours.

The Campbell’s have had a long association with Feilding, Mt Biggs and Taonui. Fifth and sixth generation farmers respectively, they knew of each other from their school years but it was through their association with Young Farmers Feilding and Country Girls organisation that the two of them began to get to know one another. They may be, Manawatū born and bred, but mutually proud of their Scottish heritage. Robert was a bagpiper in the Feilding Pipe Band and Ann was a highland dancer.

We’d be here all night if listed all the various committees and organisations that Ann and Robert have contributed to. Lions Club, Taonui School Committee, Settlers Care Trust Board, Manawatū/Whanganui Friendship Force, fundraising efforts for Aorangi marae and Feilding Makino Probus are just to name a few. And that doesn’t include some of their own individual commitments as well.

Robert is a Justice of the Peace and has served twice as a Councillor, first on the Oroua District Council and then on the Manawatū District Council for a total combined service of 21 years as a local government politician. Ann has served on and been a member of the Ōroua Women's Club, Feilding Floral Club, Destination Manawatū and Manchester House Board.

It leaves you wondering how they managed to find time to do much else, but believe me, they found a way. That just shows the passion and dedication that these two have to the betterment of the community and the people around them. They lead by example. They’re not afraid to speak their minds and they practice what they preach, as MP Ian McKelvie puts it.

They’re both noted for their generosity and hospitality as well. During the 1980’s when farming subsidies stopped, they opened up their farm to guests for farmstays and have hosted hundreds of guests over the years, including dignitaries and politicians. Through Home Host Support Network and Friendship Force, they have contributed greatly to tourism in Manawatū, with Robert leading tours of the Feilding Saleyards, as well as visiting farms for demonstations such as sheeping shearing, working dogs and milking.

Both Ann and Robert are asked about what it is that has lead to them becoming so involved in the community. Ann replied, “it’s the way that we were brought up. You were told that you had to help your community. And our Christian values, we like to help”. This is backed up by Helen J Maxwell, who nominated them both for an honour.

She says “Robert and Ann thake an active role because they care about others and the community they live in. They have devoted themselves to sustained and selfless voluntary service.”

Robert is initially elusive when asked what he is most proud of when it comes to everything he has done over the years. In fact, he starts talking about some of the things that he was criticised for such as the closure of the rail crossings between Aorangi and Bunnythorpe. But Ann points him back on track, and he says he’s most proud of being a farmer and all the opportunities that that presented to him to help the community. The skills and experience that he picked up as a farmer has directly contributed to his involvement in the community and we are better off for it.

Ann is particularly passionate about her work in the disability sector, which was inspired by her sister Maree. She, along with Robert, helped to set up Settlers Care Trust Board, a residential home for people with intellectual disabilities, and provide an alternative to IHC. This work included finding other families to become involved in the trust, purchasing the property, negotiations with government agencies and finding staff and trustees to help it all work. Ann is also responsible for gaining respite care for caregivers of adults with disabilities. She believes that her parents would be grinning from ear to ear to see the work that she has done.

It is rare for a couple to be recognised jointly with Community Honours but in this instance, it’s entirely appropriate. By being understanding, patient and supporting each other’s aspirations, our community has benefited from their combined and individual efforts. People like Ann and Robert are needed by communities and we’re fortunate to have them as part of ours.