Society secures future of groups

Fine dining . . . Out with junior leaders celebrating their appreciation dinner are (from left) Ava Smith 10, Pippa Greenwood 10, Erin Thomson, Marley Rihanna 13, Tabitha Newport, Charlotte Blair 10, and Ella Newport, 10. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A newly-formed society has secured the futures of two wellloved Fairlie groups.

The founder of Fairlie Kids Club and Team Tumble Cheer — along with her successor — have partnered with the Mackenzie District Council which is mentoring the pair through their next phase as an independent incorporated society, the Mackenzie Recreation Society.

Leadership has swapped from founder Erin Thomson to her ‘‘number one’’ volunteer Tabitha Newport.

‘‘Tabitha has been with me every week, every year, without fail. We have created and formed the Fairlie Kids Club together into what it is today.’’

While Mrs Thomson has resigned from her role, she would not disappear from the groups completely, she said.

She is taking a new role in volunteer support.

When she thought about creating a legacy for the community, she felt creating programmes which would continue into the future with or without her was what it entailed.

‘‘A legacy has to be able to stand on its own two feet,’’ she said.

Mrs Thomson said Fairlie Kids Club was an after-school programme which blossomed into existence in 2021, developing from two-day gymnastics offerings into a five day-a-week club.

She founded both projects after her mother-in-law Anne Thomson — former leader at Heartlands — asked her to come up with some ideas to bolster community spirit, engagement and help families who struggled with their work/life balance.

‘‘She gave me full creative freedom to do whatever I wanted, however I wanted.’’

Her mother-in-law had told her to just give it a try and said, ‘‘if it doesn’t work, no-one will care’’.

She was thankful to the Mackenzie Community Enhancement Board who had supported her ‘‘crazy ideas’’.

‘‘Without our salaries, we would not have been able to offer our services at such an affordable price.’’

For the all-day holiday programme it cost local families $35 compared with a similar programme in Wānaka for $60 a day.

‘‘The financial support we have received over the years from the Mackenzie Community Enhancement Board has been testimony to how important these programmes are to our community.’’

She was incredibly thankful to her husband Scott, who had been incredibly patient with all of the time and energy she had poured into the programmes over the past four years, she said.

‘‘Scott has given generous financial contributions towards all of my events and clubs and has been a constant supporter of me and what I’ve been trying to do for the families of Fairlie.’’

She said resigning from her roles was not a goodbye, only a farewell for now.

‘‘In between my travels I will still be here in Fairlie contributing to everything I hold dear. You’ll see me at gymnastics, Stronger For Longer exercises, and as fill-in for the Kids Club.’’

She said she received too much joy, had had too many laughs and loved too much of the community to disappear completely.

The change allowed her to pursue new and exciting future endeavours.

While travel was on the books, she hoped to use her free time to write a cookbook and guide to living your best life.

‘‘But most of all, I just want to relish in the glow of creating a legacy for the Fairlie community that will continue for generations to come.’’