By Mick Jensen
Retiring Presbyterian Support regional manager Jackie Girvan has been a “people helper” throughout her fulfilling working life.
She began nurse training straight from school in 1971 and by the age of 24 was a ward sister at Tuarangi Home, where she managed a nursing team and 36-bed ward.
Eleven years of full time nursing included stints in Timaru and Ashburton hospitals.
There were two more years of part time nursing after the birth of her two children.
Jackie returned to the workforce as a health promoter after being shoulder tapped for the short-term role, which went on to last 13 years.
“It was a ‘great job’ and in the heyday of health promotion when there was plenty of funding around.
“It was my role to encourage people not to smoke in the workplace after the introduction of the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 by then health minister Helen Clark.”
The role had included school visits with a doll called Smokie Suzie, who lit up a cigarette to show just how much tar was contained in a cigarette.
Copies of $5 notes, the price of a packet of cigarettes at the time, were also burnt to demonstrate the act and cost of smoking.
“Some years later a young man came up to me and told me how he had remembered one of the demonstrations at his school and been put right off smoking for life.”
The health promoter role also offered advice on nutrition, kids safety and breast and cervical cancer education.
Nutrition advice and blood pressure tests were dished out from a caravan that travelled around the district.
Jackie took up her current role at Mid Canterbury Presbyterian Support in 2003, which at the time offered primarily counselling services here.
Staff numbers have risen from five to more than 20 over the years and the organisation now offers services that support 11 community programmes.
“We live in a very generous community here in Mid Canterbury and there is so much support from local trusts, service clubs and individuals.
“The Trevor Wilson Trust has offered us amazing support over many years.”
Jackie said her staff did the work and she supported them.
“Presbyterian Support is seen as the ‘go-to’ organisation here and we help around 1000 Mid Cantabrians each year.”
Summing up her working life, Jackie Girvan says she has enjoyed “wonderful opportunities”, taken great satisfaction from her work and had enjoyed building relationships.
In retirement she will continue to have a positive input into her community, replacing the late Dame Elizabeth Harper as a trustee on the Ashburton Benevolent Trust and continuing in her role as chairman of the Ashburton Housing and Support Trust.
Retirement will also mean a much anticipated lie in in the mornings, more time with her family and more opportunities for four wheel driving and reading.