Watch house duties end

Zelda Sandys has finished up at the Ashburton Police Station after 31 years of watch house duties.

Zelda Sandys has said goodbye to watch house duties at Ashburton Police Station after an impressive 31-year stint.

The 70-year-old is the longest-serving staff member at the station and a non-sworn police employee.

Ironically, she spent her first two years at Ashburton College in the same building that has been her workplace for the past three decades.

‘‘I think my office is where I had science lessons, but that was a long time ago.’’

Born and raised in Ashburton, Zelda lived in Australia for eight years from 1971.

She started in a temporary role at her home town police station and at one stage was one of three people working reception, including a sworn officer.

‘‘The station was a busier place in those earlier years, but systems have changed and some things have been centralised over time,’’ Zelda said.

There had been no direct calls from the public taken at the station for the past few years and instead inquiries went through a call centre first.

Zelda said she had met some interesting characters in her job over the years and had worked with some very nice people.

‘‘There’s been 13 senior sergeants in charge during my time and current serving officer Rob Hooper started soon after I did.’’

Confidentiality governed what she could and couldn’t talk about, she said.

‘‘I’ve always enjoyed my job and always been happy to come to work.
‘‘No two days are the same and I’ve liked that.’’

Zelda’s workload has also included being the station arms officer.

She has processed scores of arms applications and issued permits in her time, although permits are now processed off-site.

In retirement Zelda and her husband John intend spending more time exploring the country in their campervan.

The couple rode Harley Davidson motorcycles for many years and saw a lot of New Zealand.

Zelda was on the back of John’s bike until she had a bike converted into her own trike.

The couple have three children, all living in Christchurch, and seven grandsons, and retirement will mean more family time.

-By Mick Jensen