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Good stick . . . Simon Cotton is helping those in need of firewood throughout the Waimate district by providing it to them free of charge. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

by Alexia Johnston

Simon Cotton has been paying it forward one load of firewood at a time.

Mr Cotton, of Waimate, has been spending his days splitting firewood, which he gives to those in need free of charge.

He recently posted an image on Facebook of some of the firewood he had available, alerting people that some was wet and some was dry.

“But hey – it’s free,” he said.

He encouraged people not to take too much when they came to collect wood, to ensure as many people as possible could benefit.

“My only hope is that what I do inspires just one person to step out and help somebody else.” – Simon Cotton

While there was the odd “greedy” person, the majority were respectful of what he was trying to do, he said.

He wanted to give the firewood away because “I just see a lot of people struggling”, he said.

“Basically, I do what I do for the people, not me.

“It’s about the community – helping each other. That’s basically why I do it.

“My only hope is that what I do inspires just one person to step out and help somebody else.”

Mr Cotton, a solo father, said he was grateful to his mates, who helped him split the wood, and Ann and Gary Dennison, who let him take it from their plantation.

Those to have benefited from the estimated 60 cubic metres of wood he had chopped so far this winter included a family with a young baby who had pneumonia.

The Waimate discussion group Facebook page where Mr Cotton promotes the wood features comments from people expressing their gratitude.

Mr Cotton posted to Facebook late last week, advertising one final load.

“This is the very last I will be gifting as my body is now saying nope haha, so who needs it?”

The Dennisons have allowed people to take wood from the skid site of their Waimate plantation over the past five years, so long as they have fulfilled mandatory health and safety requirements.

“Some have taken it for commercial means – they’ve sold it – and that’s fine. But some just take enough for themselves. Others, like Simon, share it around,” Mr Dennison said.

“I must admit, I’m pleasantly surprised that some of the young guys do get out there with the community spirit.”