Dorothy Anderson remembers fondly her first visit to New Plymouth’s Pukekura Park in 1928, and now, at age 98, she gets to visit it regularly in her capacity as a volunteer of New Plymouth’s TSB Festival of Lights, which runs for five weeks each summer. Dorothy is the longest-serving volunteer of the Festival, which was officially launched in 1993, although lighting installations have been a feature of the park for more than 60 years. Dorothy has also been a member of the Friends of Pukekura Park, as well as a member of the Friendship Force of New Plymouth. Her volunteer work has been recognised with a Citizen’s Award in 1998 and the Friendship Force Wayne Smith Medal in 2011.
Friendship Force is a voluntary organisation and its objectives of improving international relationships through cultural exchanges has been a passion of Dorothy’s since joining the New Plymouth organisation as a Foundation Member in 1984. Since then, Dorothy has hosted forty exchanges involving more than one hundred Friendship Force Ambassadors and has been the Exchange Director for seven Inward and ten Outward exchanges. Many of these involved Third World countries where English was not spoken. Dorothy was President of the New Plymouth Friendship Force Branch for twelve years and also held the posts of Secretary (7 years) and Vice President. In recognition of her contribution to this organisation, Dorothy was made a Life Member of the New Plymouth Friendship Force Club in 2001 and is currently Patron of the New Plymouth branch. Dorothy has attended almost all NZ Conferences and was frequently involved in leadership roles as a panelist or workshop leader and has also attended four World Conferences.