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Dedicated . . . Oamaru Trade Aid volunteer Janet Calder has been recognised for more than 12 years of service for the store. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

Volunteering for Oamaru Trade Aid has been a big part of Janet Calder’s life for more than 12 years, and her contributions have been officially recognised.

Mrs Calder last month received a service award ‘‘in recognition of the exceptional contribution made to the Trade Aid movement and the goals of its charter’’ and said she was ‘‘a bit blown away’’.

‘‘Look, you don’t do things such as I have done, with the thought that you’re going to garner some award at the end of it.’’

It was a wish to find something ‘‘really worthwhile’’ to do, following an ‘‘abrupt redundancy’’ as assistant pastor at the Baptist Church, which led Mrs Calder through the doors of Trade Aid in 2009.

She accumulated the tasks which suited her skill›set — using her experience as a former teacher and also a preacher to take on the role as an educator, speaking to groups and at events about the work Trade Aid did.

‘‘I did a wee count up . . . I’ve probably spoken to about 60 different groups — school groups, scouts, service groups, all about Trade Aid — and tried very hard to target the talk to the group I was speaking to.’’

She also joined the trust in 2010, and has been chairwoman for seven years.

‘‘So it’s become a big part of my life . . .I really like the core values of Trade Aid, where they do give a decent price for the goods the people make.

‘‘We buy high and sell low. . . because of our model, we have cut out the middle man. We buy directly from those groups that make the goods.

‘‘We’re not giving them a hand out, we’re giving them a hand up. We’re allowing them to trade on the things that they’re really good at, and keeping, often, their indigenous crafts as well.’’

Working with Trade Aid was ‘‘an easy way to help the poor’’, which aligned with her Christian values.

‘‘We sponsor children through World Vision, so for me it was a great mix, because again, they’re helping the poor. And being able to work and trade gives them a pathway out of poverty, which is huge . . .And working in the shop, I really enjoy it. I like people.’’

Trade Aid was not the only organisation benefiting from Mrs Calder’s time and energy, though.

She was ‘‘desperately trying to do woodturning’’, which led her to join the Waitaki Woodturners Guild, and landed her the job of producing the newsletter. For more than 25 years, she had been on the committee of the Oamaru Table Tennis Club, as a past president and now secretary.

She also taught table tennis in schools, which she loved.

‘‘It’s the teaching thing, but it’s a fun teaching thing, and I just so enjoy it.’’

Mrs Calder is married to retired farmer Alister, and said living and helping on the farm meant she had learned to manage her time well — a skill which had proven invaluable especially while she was training to be a minister, and working.

‘‘We were farming, and we were shearing and doing all those things, cropping and things like that. So I had to be pretty careful with my time. Time management, if it wasn’t a skill, it became a skill.’’

She loved to write, and hoped to do more.

‘‘I also love gardening, love reading.’’

The Calders were ‘‘blessed’’ to have their two adult children, Joanna and Daniel, living locally, and so helping with four grandchildren also filled the days.

A highlight of her time with Trade Aid had been the refurbishment of the store earlier this year, which was a collaboration between the trust and store manager Delwyn Cox, with approval from head office, Mrs Calder said.

‘‘It’s quite a legacy between the two of us. We’re quite chuffed about it, to be honest.’’

The trust’s role was to work with Mrs Cox, and back her up as well.

‘‘One of the things I really admire about Delwyn, is the way she treats her volunteers. She really values them, she looks after them, she knows what’s going on in their lives.’’

Mrs Cox looked forward to ‘‘Action Fridays’’ when the pair could get together and often got things done with Mrs Calder’s go-ahead, rather than waiting for the next trust meeting.

Mrs Calder’s public presentations had also helped bring new customers in store, and provided a greater understanding of why Trade Aid existed.