Celebrating National Volunteer Week 2022
20 Jun 2022
We’re celebrating National Volunteer Week (19th to 25th of June) by profiling some of our fantastic Wellington Airport Ambassadors who provide a friendly, helpful and welcoming presence for travellers.
Patricia Saxby and Maureen Groucott
According to both Maureen and Patricia, the best part of volunteering is the wide range of people they meet.
“I just like to be helpful,” says Maureen. “I had the best day at the airport last Wednesday after two years of Covid – it was back to how it used to be! It was wonderful, I walked up the stairs and said ‘oh wow’.”
Maureen has been volunteering for six years at Wellington Airport, alongside volunteering for a local hospice and the local Bowling Club.
Patricia also has a long history as a volunteer, involved in Lions and the Lower Hutt Kindergarten Association in previous years.
“I had a spell working for a travel company, so I daresay that gave me an insight into travel and the airport,” says Patricia.
“Strangely enough, Maureen and I – our two boys grew up together, and we knew of each other. Then we finished up both buying a new house in a new subdivision and now we’re only two doors apart.”
For Maureen, volunteering was also a way to “get out and mix more with people” after her husband passed away.
And the best part of being an Ambassador?
“Just being able to help people. Some of them can be so confused and intimidated when they come to an airport. It’s magic to be the one to help them and ease their worries.”
Interested in volunteering as a Wellington Airport Ambassador? We’d love to hear from you! Full training provided, special events and a great team of people to work with. Contact Fiona.Gibb@wellingtonairport.co.nz.
For Sue Selvadurai, this is just the latest role in a lifetime of supporting those in need.
“I’ve always been a volunteer. I’ve done numerous voluntary roles with schools and kindergartens, and I’m a deliverer for Bellyful. We make and deliver meals to families with new babies in difficulties who need support.
“I’m also a volunteer for House of Grace which is a programme for teenage mums. It’s a live-in home run by a family for up to four teenage mums who need help.”
Sue has plenty of experience in the travel sector, having worked for a travel agency and for Air New Zealand.
“I worked in reservations - old school reservations with boards sliding across the wall, for 10 years. I also worked on groups and tours, domestic and international which was a lot of fun.
“After going through breast cancer I thought ‘I need to be outside, doing things’. So I started as a Wellington City Ambassador which was brilliant.
“That led to trialling ambassadors here at the airport, so I was here right at the beginning of the programme.
“I love it. For me, it’s familiar territory because I’ve worked with Air New Zealand; I know the coding, the airline internal workings, which made it easy to start here.
“I just enjoy helping people, making a little easier what can be quite an overwhelming place to come to.
“People coming here are often letting someone go, meeting someone they haven’t seen for a long time, or perhaps going on a plane and they haven’t flown for years and years.
“If you’ve never been in here before, it can be an intimidating environment. So it’s just being able to be a calm front person.
“A gentleman came up to me once and said, ‘I felt really funny in the taxi coming here’ and I think he was flying internationally. He said, ‘I know I don’t feel right’.
“I said, ‘you come and sit in my seat’ and I called operations. He ended up going off in an ambulance with a heart issue.
“During Covid I missed the airport big time. I missed being able to help when there were people who needed help and we couldn’t be here.
“It’s a cool environment and a fabulous team. It’s just neat for people to have us here.”
For Mike Lee, volunteering is all about people.
“I’ve always had an interest in people. My first job was as a journalist in broadcasting, working in radio and television, and after that I was lucky enough to get a job at Parliament as a tour guide. I enjoyed that very much.
“An opportunity came up to do some volunteer work at Wellington Airport, and here I am: enjoying it very much, into my eighth year now.
“We have a desk where people can come up and ask all kinds of questions, like where their flight departs from, where to charge their phone, and so on.
“The airport is a busy place with quite a few million people passing through every year. People can sometimes be a bit fraught - I think that’s a natural sort of reaction, so I really enjoy being able to help people.
“Recently someone left a wallet here and we found $450 in it. That person had already gone to Nelson, but the operations team were able to trace him through Air New Zealand and he got his money back.
“Another time I had a young gentleman who needed some money for the bus, so I gave him $8. I probably shouldn’t have!
“He took my details and said ‘I’ll pay you back’, and I thought ‘I’ll never hear from him again’. A few months later though, lo and behold, an envelope appears for me, left at the desk with the money I lent him. So I have a great deal of faith in human nature.
“Interacting with people is my forte. I love being able to help people, and I’m proud to be part of a team that does that.”