QSM for local stalwart

Cambridge’s Jocelyn Cooney (left), one-time rally driver and reluctant law student, receiving her Queen’s Service Medal from New Zealand’s Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy (right).

There’s something quite telling in the way that Jocelyn Cooney points out the tiny lapel badge marking her new QSM status.  It’s small compared to the boxed version of the award … modest like its wearer, but with a backstory far more prominent than its size suggests.

The presentation of her Queen’s Service Medal on September 24 was done amid the pomp of a formal investiture ceremony at New Zealand’s Government House.  Thrilling as that was, Jocelyn’s best takeaway from the day was that her family were with her – her 92-year-old mum Grace Ronayne, husband David Cooney, and their children Emma and Rob.

“It was very special to have them all there with me … I know I’m very lucky,” she said. “Just receiving the award was fantastic for me on a personal level, but I also hope that it might give a little prominence to the organisations I’ve been involved with through the years, and who helped get it for me.”

Jocelyn’s citation puts her down as a trustee of the Safer Community Trust and the Cambridge Autumn Festival, and a former trustee of the Waipā Community Trust. It says she helped form the Cambridge Health and Community Trust and lists her honorary solicitor status with the Parents Centre, Grey Power, Cambridge Creative Fibre, Cambridge Society of Arts, Rotary, Cambridge Community House and Riding for the Disabled.

She sits on the New Zealand Law Society Cost Revision Committee, was a foundation trustee at Hautapu School and sits on the Board of Trustees of Salisbury School.  The latter is a Nelson-based state school for intellectually disabled girls. Her role there has seen her spearhead a gritty fight for the school to remain open – one which has at last been successful and which she says has provided a particularly satisfying victory.

They are organisations that have benefited from Jocelyn’s expertise, usually delivered with copious dollops of humour. “Each of them is very worthwhile, and I get far more out of all those associations than I could ever put in.  The most fun has probably come from the Autumn Festival; they have great trustees and it’s such a good news story for the town.  How could you not enjoy it?”

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