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‘Inspirational mentor’ wins Volunteer of the Year

Bryce Dinneen. Photo: Supplied.

Bryce Dinneen has been announced as Volunteer of the Year in the TECT Community Awards for his work creating opportunities for disabled and disadvantaged people.

The former Tauranga Boys College student is well known in the region as an inspirational mentor and voice for disabled people to live a purposeful and fulfilled life.

After suffering a high-level spinal injury from a shallow diving accident at the age of 29, Bryce was left with only 4 per cent function.

During his rehabilitation, Bryce thought he might never enjoy one of his lifelong passions again – fishing.

He decided to establish Wish 4 Fish, a charity that organises fishing trips for people with physical or mental disability, illness or financial hardship.

Since 2011, Wish 4 Fish has taken out over 220 people to enjoy saltwater activities in our region. Bryce dedicates countless hours each week to running the charity with the support of trustees, committee members and volunteers.

Bryce’s next big dream was to build a purpose-designed vessel to provide all New Zealanders the opportunity to experience the joys of the ocean.

And the dream is soon to become a reality.  After years of work and fundraising, the 18-metre wheelchair accessible vessel is currently being built, with plans for its first trip to take place in time for the America’s Cup March 2021.

Bryce says the award is recognition of what can be achieved and the life-changing impact you can have by giving back.

“I would like to thank TECT and the judges for this award and acknowledgement. For me, while life is a little more challenging than most, I do what I do to prove that anything is possible. If you have a dream and a vision, a plan and goal, it can come to fruition.

“Fishing and boating are some of New Zealand’s most popular recreational activities, and those with physical and mental disabilities are currently not being catered for to enjoy these. Through Wish 4 Fish we are able to arrange trips for individuals with physical and mental disabilities and their carers. The benefits go beyond a day out on the water. It helps to create camaraderie, excitement and a sense of normality – it is something we all deserve.

“I would like to personally thank my supportive family and friends in which have provided the backbone for the Wish for Fish Charitable Trust to achieve its goals. Those that have supported the charity big or small thank you but now more than ever it would be awesome for the community to help the Wish for Fish Charitable Trust #FLOATTHEBOAT - please visit our Givealittle page." 

TECT Community Awards judge Carlo Ellis says learning about the work of the nominees and finalists was inspirational.

“We have so many amazing volunteers in our region, and that was clear to see in the overwhelming number of nominations we received in this category. I would like to thank every one of the nominees and finalists for all they do for our community, and for every volunteer out there that gives back with no expectation of anything in return. You make our region what it is. Kia Kaha koutou.

“The countless hours and dedication that are put into giving back to the community, even in the smallest ways, can have such an impact. I know TECT sees this every day through their funding to community groups, but learning about it firsthand has been inspirational.

“Congratulations to Bryce on the win – it is truly well deserved. He is a shining example to us all to never give up, and to strive to make the world a better place.”

The other finalists recognised in the Volunteer of the Year category included Brett Williamson, Elise Rohde, Lex Spencer, Sam Fellow and Trevor Clist.

The TECT Community Awards are now in their final week, with the winner of the Lifetime Service Award announced on Monday 3 August.

There are seven award categories: Event Excellence, Sustainable Future, Diversity and Inclusion, Rising Star, Youth Spirit, Volunteer of the Year, and Lifetime Service. STEMFest won the Event Excellence Award, Good Neighbour won the Sustainable Future Award, The Search Party Charitable Trust won the Diversity and Inclusion Award, RRR – Rescue, Revive, Rehome won the Rising Star Award, and James Power won the Youth Spirit Award.

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