Alexandra community leader Bernice Lepper says she has always had “the highest respect” for the Paul Harris fellows at the Rotary Club of Alexandra, listening to their citations with admiration and acknowledging the contributions the fellows had made.
“So when I got one myself I was quite shocked, quite surprised. But I’m really privileged to have received it, because I’ve always thought of myself as just part of a team.”
Mrs Lepper’s recent fellowship recognised her outstanding contribution to Central Otago “in a multitude of ways”, the citation read at the fellowship ceremony said.
She has been a member of Alexandra Rotary for 10 years, became assistant principal at Dunstan High School, was the driving force behind the establishment of the $2.6million Alexandra Community House, and supported her husband Tony Lepper for six years as mayoress.
Mrs Lepper is manager of Central Otago Reap and the deputy chairwoman of the Central Lakes Trust, and is on the board of Presbyterian Support Otago.
She had also attained various podium places in sport, and was still a competitive athlete, the citation said.
Those contributing to Mrs Lepper’s citation said she was an educator “at the highest level” and a role model to other sportswomen.
The first time she entered the Coast to Coast, she had the fastest overall female time in the mountain run, was second female overall and first veteran woman.
She was also a member of a team that won the premier mixed team section of the five-day Southern Traverse, won her section in 10 out of 16 Goldrush multi-sport events entered, and was “still out there doing it”, preparing to do a 1000km mountain-bike event in Australia in November, Central Otago sports identities Neville Grubb and Bill Godsall said.
Mrs Lepper said the Southern Traverse win proved “to myself that anything is possible if you just give it a go, and that is a pretty good philosophy to live life by”.
She said steering the construction of the new Dunstan Hostel accommodation and Alexandra Community House were her proudest achievements, and education was “still my passion”.
“Seeing people make a change in their lives is very rewarding”.