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In the money . . . Representatives from Waitaki charities with their $500 cheques, presented by the Waitaki Recreational Boating Club (from left) Otematata Volunteer Fire Brigade secretary and brigade support Debbie Smith, Whalan Lodge Trust chairman Barney McCone, Otematata Golf Club treasurer Ethel Gray, Waitaki Recreational Boating Club chairman (?) Neil Smith, Waitaki Valley School principal Jane Severinson, and Kurow Rugby Club premier team manager Andrew Harding. PHOTO: ASHLEY SMYTH

Waitaki Valley residents are reaping double benefits thanks to the hard work of the Waitaki Recreational and Boating Club.

The incorporated society, which began in 2019, runs fundraising events in the area throughout the year.

Club president Neil Smith said the two main fundraisers were the Twin Lakes Boat Race at Queen’s Birthday weekend and the Waitaki Valley Motorcycle Rally in September.

“These are great income earners for us … and we give the money back to the community,” he said.

Each year, the club aimed to give $5000 to community groups, in $500 instalments. This time, the recipients were the Otematata Volunteer Fire Brigade, Whalan Lodge Trust, Otematata Golf Club, Waitaki Valley School and Kurow Rugby Club.

applications for funding, and they come through and then we assess them on their merits and what they need the money for.”

The club was the brainchild of Mr Smith and Otematata Eatery, Bar and Lodging owners Brent and Kirsty Cowles, at the start of 2019.

The trio wanted to come up with a way of incorporating boating, family activities and motorcycles in a way that could “create energy going forward” to raise money for the community, but also benefit the community by bringing outsiders to the area.

Mr Smith said the events came together through hard work.

“I’d like to thank my hard-working committee. This is not just a one-person event, you know.”

Last year’s motorcycle rally attracted more than 700 people, but numbers were down because of the uncertainty surrounding shifting Covid levels. This year, it looked like there would be more than 1000, Mr Smith said.

“People come from all over.”

The rally was held at the Loch Laird camping ground with the co-operation of the Waitaki District Council, he said.

“They support us all the way.”

More money would be distributed following the motorbike rally and, at the end of the year, applications would be open again.

All grant recipients were last week presented with oversized ANZ $500 cheques for photography purposes, but the pieces of paper were obsolete, as cheques were being phased out by banks at the end of May.

Mr Smith assured the recipients the funds had actually been deposited by electronic banking.

The Otematata Volunteer Fire Brigade was putting its money towards its 50th anniversary celebrations being held in October this year; Whalan Lodge was using the money for petrol vouchers to help with outings for residents; Otematata Golf Club’s $500 was going to upgrading its irrigation system; Waitaki Valley School was using the money to help with travel for sports teams; and the Kurow Rugby Club was using its $500 to help with the costs of players who travelled from Twizel up to three times a week for training and games.