Hokitika QSM 'a thrill'

By Janna Sherman
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Hokitika’s Colleen Freitas has been honoured with a Queen’s Service Medal in recognition of her service to the elderly community.
As president of Hokitika Grey Power and the RSA Women’s Section, Mrs Freitas was honoured for her services to senior citizens. She was one of only two West Coasters to make the Queen’s Birthday honours list this year. The other was Mavis White, of Westport, for services to hockey and the community.
Mrs Freitas said yesterday the accolade was still sinking in.
“I was really surprised because this is just what I do. I like helping people. I’ve had so many people call and say I deserved it. I have had calls from all over New Zealand ... I didn’t realise just how big a deal it was.”
Until last year, Mrs Freitas had worked in care roles for the elderly for 20 years — beginning at Seaview Hospital and then, when it closed, shifting to outpatient work.
For the past five years she has also led the Grey Power and RSA groups — co-ordinating both the social and regulatory functions of each group. She is also heavily involved in the wider Hokitika community.
As an avid card player the 76-year-old leads the Hokitika Chartered Club card section and is secretary of the Hokitika Bridge Club.
She is also the Hokitika delegate for the West Coast outdoor bowls organisation, a member of the Safer Community Council and was a representative on the West Coast Restorative Justice management committee until its functions were transferred to Christchurch.
Over many years Mrs Freitas has also been a willing chauffeur, helping others who are no longer able to drive get from “A to B”.
“I suppose anything I can do to help I will,” she said. “I find it quite rewarding because they really appreciate it, and while I can help I will.”
Mrs Freitas will head either to Auckland or Wellington later in the year for the official investiture ceremony at Government House alongside the other recipients, whom she was humbled to be listed among.
“I would like to thank the person or persons who thought it was worth recommending me for the award. It was a surprise, but I am thrilled.”