Volunteer work leads to QSM for Florence

Florence Shearman, QSM, pictured with New Zealand’s Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy.

Cambridge’s Florence Shearman is still buzzing after receiving her Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to seniors at Government House in Auckland last week.

The long-time volunteer for the elderly was among the 2019 New Year Honours recipients named on December 31 last year. She received her award from New Zealand’s Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy, last Wednesday, May 15.

Delighted at the honour, she said: “It was nice to be recognised for the work that I have been doing for seniors through the Ministry of Social Development. I started volunteering with them in about 1999 – it’s a long time!”

The work she does locally for the elderly, which includes organising the annual Global Walk for Seniors and other events, isn’t all Florence is known for. Trained as a nurse, she went on to become a hospital chaplain, an industrial chaplain and pastoral counsellor. She regularly handled family emergencies, conducted weddings and funerals, volunteered in whichever community she called home, and worked closely with the police – an association that led to her being awarded a police medal for service.

Florence also made news as a young nurse who helped survivors of the 1968 Wahine ferry disaster in Wellington. That event helped shape the choices she went on to make and saw her return to Wellington last year to join in the 50th commemorations of the Wahine sinking.

The citation that accompanied Florence’s QSM described her as a volunteer community co-ordinator for the Office for Senior Citizens, representing Thames-Coromandel and then Waikato, and as a former volunteer at the Whangamata Police Station. It also referenced her campaign to help establish a health shuttle for Cambridge, which led to the inception of the current St John Health Shuttle service.

Florence’s volunteer work in this area has included helping Cambridge Police in supporting the town’s ageing population, and volunteering as a Friend at Court in Hamilton.

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