Work for women and community brings QSM
Margaret Arnold had to think hard before accepting her Queen's Service Medal for work with women and the
"I guess I feel a little exposed," she said.
"There are so many other people who really deserve this.
"There are hundreds, and the odd one gets picked out.
I thought very hard about whether I would accept this."
Arnold has worked for women's needs in Christchurch for
more than 20 years.
A longtime member of the YWCA, Arnold played a key role in establishing the women's night shelter in 1987, a neighbourhood kitchen to deliver meals to the elderly and a self-defence course for women and teenage girls.
Arnold credits a life spent in volunteer work to her upbringing in South Canterbury.
"It's a lifestyle, and my parents were very much connected with the building of community," she said.
"It went in with the cornflakes at breakfast that you are part of a community and you contribute what you can to a community. That was the style of my growing up."
The women's night shelter was the first of its kind – a sanctuary for the "five or six women every night who have got nowhere to go".
"It is a refuge in that people come looking for peace, for quiet, for safety and other circumstances where they can either get out of debt, get a job, get well again or gather their children together," she said.
"It's really a transition place now."
Arnold previously worked as a polytechnic senior tutor and supervisor of nursing sciences. By the 1990s, it became apparent she could not keep up both paid and unpaid work.
"I began to see that there could be other teachers but there weren't many others that were going to be able to spend time in the community the way I was," she said.
Arnold lives in Mt Pleasant with husband Ted Arnold, a semi-retired medical professor. Their five children and eight grandchildren are spread across New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Britain.
Article reprinted from The Press, 21/01/2011
Story by Michael Wright
Photo taken by David Hallett