Good deeds and a community spirit have marked the life of our very own QSM recipient, Neville Coslett. Neville, who enjoys the close proximity of the beach from his Pacific Coast Village residence, says he wasn't expecting the award as he did not apply for it.
"It was Sir Kingsley Jones' wife who suggested I should be put in," he said, when we caught up with him at home in August, two weeks after the investiture ceremony at Government House in Auckland. Neville travelled to the event with his son, staying in a motel the night before.
"It was a beautiful day, and I really enjoyed it," said Neville. "When we arrived at 9.15am the gates were closed. But the Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy arrived shortly after, and we went through after that. When we got inside I was separated from my son and family."
Neville was taken into a room with a group of others, including several other notable New Zealanders. "Sir John Key was there, he was knighted on the same day. We were all told what to expect so we would all do the right thing when they called out our names."
Neville was presented his award by the Governor General, and after the ceremony he had his photo taken with Sir John Key, and another with Prime Minister Bill English.
Neville received the prestigious award for his services to the community. Recently retired, he'd been a Justice of the Peace since 1989, and a sitting JP/Judicial Officer at Papakura and Pukekohe District Courts since 1994. Neville is justifiably proud of the 17 years he spent as a community representative for the Ministry of Social Developments' Benefits Review Committee. "It was a ministerial role, and I sat in on meetings and chaired them as well," said Neville.
But that's not all. Neville was the President and Chair of the Auckland Welsh Club, as well as the coordinator for community sponsorship for Welsh emigrants, advising and supporting new emigrants. He also served as the Chairperson of the Club's Board of Trustees, and in the 1990s presented a fortnightly radio programme entitled 'Echoes of Wales'.
Somehow Neville also found time to serve as a marriage celebrant, a member of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, a council member of the New Zealand Institute of Management, and the President of the Association of Factory and Production Managers. As well as being made a fellow of the European Institute of Management, he has also been involved with local rugby clubs, so it came as no surprise to find his family hails from a Welsh rugby background.
"Three members of my family played for Wales," said Neville. "But not me. Instead I trained as a tenor at the Black Heath Conservatory of Music in London. I was tutored by Arthur Counce; he was a well known tenor in his day."
Neville went on to become a tenor in London for the Welsh Male Boys' Choir, and did a lot of singing and entertaining for various groups of senior citizens. "When I came to New Zealand I did the same thing for the JCs, although I was never a proper member, I really enjoyed performing for senior citizens."
Sadly Neville's wife of 42 years passed away two years ago. "We always came to Papamoa, and I know she would have loved it here at the village. The people are wonderful to me. When they found out about the award they organised a surprise celebration. They asked me to come to the Summer House, and when I walked in, there were about 50 people there, all clapping."
Moving forward Neville plans to wear his new insignia next on ANZAC Day, a day when he traditionally wears other medals gained from his five years in the Royal Air Force. Needless to say, we're all looking forward to seeing them. Good on you Neville, you've done us proud!
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