They served their country and they deserve to be served in return.
That is the philosophy Returned and Services’ Association (RSA) volunteers Kay Hayes and Alan Pratley apply when helping veterans in Alexandra and wider Central Otago.
While most of their work goes unsung, the pair spoke to The News as part of National Volunteer Week about their work and what motivates them.
Both being children of returned servicemen from World War 2 and seeing what the RSA had done for their respective fathers had proven a strong reason to be involved.
Mrs Hayes said her service as a volunteer began about five years ago but her involvement in the RSA went back much further.
“I’ve always been an RSA person, my father was president in Dunedin.”
That meant she had always been involved in the association’s annual Poppy Day appeal and later worked in its welfare services.
A large part of her and Mr Pratley’s work involved getting men who served under Compulsory Military Training (CMT) engaged with Veteran’s Affairs, she said.
CMT support comes under what is known as Qualifying Routine Service, which anyone, regardless of where, who served before April 1, 1974, is eligible for.
Before that date, service members were not covered for work-related injuries or illnesses.
Veteran’s Affairs provides support to all those that served in the NZ Armed Forces during this time.
Qualifying Routine Service stopped with the introduction of ACC.
Mr Pratley’s volunteer work extends beyond manpower to firepower. He also is a caretaker of the working 25-pounder field gun that can be found outside the Alexandra District Club and RSA headquarters in Centennial Ave.
His motivation was to “give back” after seeing the support his parents received from the RSA when his father became ill.
Mrs Hayes said in her time she had amassed a thick file of people who had needed support and that continued to grow.
Mr Pratley agreed.
“There’s always people [veterans] coming out of the woodwork.”