• Howick and Pakuranga Times
|WORTHY RECIPIENT: Jess Potter receives this year’s Times Newspapers’ War Veterans’ Community Service Award, with Auckland Mayor Len Brown, Reay Neben, Howick RSA president Malcolm Cordukes, councillor Sharon Stewart and Brian Neben. Times photo Carmen Bird.|
IT TOOK a girl from Matiere to get action for a Returned and Services’ Association (RSA) women’s section in Howick.
Jess Potter moved to Auckland with her late husband George after selling their farm at Matiere, about 42 kilometres from Taumarunui, King Country.
They bought a house in Mellons Bay in 1974. As a foundation life member of the Pio Pio RSA’s women’s section in King Country, Mrs Potter was quickly hot on the tail of Howick RSA president of the time, the indomitable Russ Rice.
“I followed him around asking ‘what about a women’s section’,” Mrs Potter says. “One day he said ‘we’ll have a meeting’. Sixteen ladies came and he allowed us to start the section for three months. If it was no good he said he would knock it on the head.”
Persistence was rewarded and last Sunday Mrs Potter collected this year’s Times Newspapers’ War Veterans’ Community Service Award for dedication to her community at the Howick Lions in the Park and Military Tattoo.
“It was an honour to present Jess with the award as she’s so dedicated to her community and that is something that makes Howick special,” says Reay Neben, managing director of Times Newspapers.
“Jess has worked tirelessly for the Howick RSA and is considered the matriarch of the women’s section.”
Since that first meeting, Mrs Potter has been president of the Howick women’s section four times and on the RSA’s executive committee for 14 years. She’s an honorary life member of Howick RSA and a gold star badge holder, a high honour for a non-returned services person and not given lightly.