Poppy trust pops up

A new Whakatipu trust’s been formed to financially help any returned servicepeople, or any of their direct relatives.

The Arrowtown and Queenstown Returned and Services’ Associations have combined forces to establish the Whakatipu Poppy Trust, which will see all money raised locally through Poppy Day — being held today — stay in the district.

Previously, money raised here was sent to Wellington, and a portion of it was returned to the district.

Arrowtown RSA president Rose mary Chalmers says the new trust, formed a few months ago, has over $100,000 available to dish out to anyone in need who qualifies.

Recent examples include providing some funding to a local who needed oral surgery, helping cover the cost of an ex-serviceman’s apprenticeship fees, and providing funding for Aspiring Learners to help with specialist education for Jackson Smyth, 9, whose parents Phil and Paula served six and 12 years in the navy, respectively, and moved to Queenstown in 2017.

Paula says Jackson was diagnosed with a neurodiverse disorder about two years ago — once that diagnosis was given and strategies were implemented to help him, he started learning at school, but was ‘‘massively behind his peers’’.

And while the school’s special education needs coordinator was applying to the Education Ministry to get funding for a teacher aide, ‘‘that wasn’t really going anywhere’’.

‘‘He really needed that one-on-one [support], so we had no choice to go down the private tutor path.’’

Paula says while that’s going to be a long-term cost, the burden eased immensely when Chalmers offered the RSAs’ help last year.

The funding received, from RSAs all over the south, including Arrowtown and Queenstown, was enough to cover Jackson’s tutor for two years of twice-weekly support.

‘‘It is amazing,’’ Paula says.

‘‘What we’ve received to date, I just can’t even put it into words.

‘‘He’s making some really great progress and doing really well — I feel incredibly lucky and so humbled that someone like Rosie was able to reach out to us.’’

Chalmers says the trust’s keen to tap into younger generations and provide financial assistance where they can, with the option of having RSAs throughout Southland, which also have trusts, also contributing because the money ‘‘can’t just sit there’’.

Anzac Day services

Tuesday, April 25

6.30am: Queenstown Memorial Gates, Marine Parade, followed by a parade to Queenstown Memorial Centre for wreath laying

9.30am: War Memorial, Mull Street

10am: Athenaeum Hall, Buckingham St for parade to Soldiers Hill Cenotaph, Durham St (service from 10.30am)

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