For over two decades Rodney and Kaipara’s younger residents, many experiencing difficulties in their lives, have benefited from a youth-focused organisation led by a dedicated local man whose energy, compassion and kindness were honoured recently at a celebration dinner with family, friends and Blue Light supporters.
North Rodney Blue Light (NRBL) community youth coordinator for over 25 years, Shane Gould has helped enhance the lives of hundreds of young people by encouraging them to face their fears and boost their self-esteem by connecting with others and taking on outdoor challenges such as camping, kayaking, mountain biking, air rifles and archery.
Although 2020 was Gould’s official 25th anniversary with Blue Light, due to Covid the organisation was unable to celebrate last year, however on July 13 at Wellsford Community Centre, Gould along with wife Kristol, were honoured at a ceremonious buffet dinner.
Emcee for the evening was William Iosia, a long-time Blue Light officer from Papakura whose humour was most appreciated by the 100-plus guests and speakers, including family, dignitaries, police officers and NRBL committee members, who all acknowledged Gould’s energy, passion and kindness.
Blue Light CEO Rod Bell was part of Wellsford’s long blue line from 1988-1996, and established the youth organisation 30 years ago after the community asked him to help their young people, ‘after they built me a new police station’.
“At first it was just us local cops making up things to do and going on camps, so we needed someone,” he says. “The first thing Shane did was visit the 11 local schools in the district and organised discos, which set the scene to have a direct impact on young people, and that hasn’t changed. It’s remarkable that 25 years on Shane is still here and still finding new ideas for Blue Light, he’s always looking to see what we can do for our local kids.”
With 68 branches nationwide and 70 staff, Blue Light’s goals are to help reduce the chance of young people becoming an offender or victim of crime, and to encourage better relations between police, youth and the community.
“It can’t happen without the support of the police,” Bell says. ”It’s not a job for officers, but they put in over 100,000 hours of their own free time to Blue Light.”
Practising doctor, qualified nurse, university lecturer, keynote speaker on workplace well-being and also holding a variety of governance roles, Gould’s daughter, Dr Elizabeth Berryman, spoke of her pride for her parents, ‘Mr and Mrs Blue Light’, and attributed her success ‘to being a Blue Light kid’.
“I am a product of Blue Light, there were the most amazing, dedicated and passionate people running this programme… there was always something happening – discos, trolley derby’s, trips to Rainbows End and all-night parties… no one knew what my Dad did for a job as he was always mountain biking, kayaking or going on camping trips,” she says. “What Dad does is to get people involved based on fun, but there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make these amazing programmes.”
Local Senior Constable Rob Cato acknowledged Gould’s wife Kristol, saying ‘behind every successful man there is a good wife or partner’ and also spoke about the mana behind a good handshake.
“The first thing I see Shane do at camps is greet kids with a handshake, some of the kids lack confidence but after a second handshake when they leave, you can see it means something to them, they feel mana, and they leave with a skip in their step and a smile on their face.”
Gould admitted he was a bit overwhelmed and humbled by the warmth, love and high regard he received from family, friends and colleagues, and thanked the community, police, supporters and Rodney Blue Light committee members for their time and generosity. He also talked about how the attention and kindness shown by a local police officer supported him through his own volatile childhood with a violent alcoholic father.
“One of my saddest regrets is I couldn’t find the officer again to thank him. Giving young people an opportunity is my passion, to form a connection, I want to make a friend with that young person,” he says. “I’ve been thinking about my own personal mission statement lately, and realised if I take the ‘u’ out of Gould it spells ‘Gold’. Gold is usually found in dirt, takes a lot of mining… and that’s what I find with young people, sometimes it gets mucky but when you start digging deep, you strike gold.”
“Giving young people an opportunity is my passion, to form a connection, I want to make a friend with that young person.”
- Shane Gould
Finding the gold in Gould. Shane Gould (blue shirt, far right) and wife Kristol, with daughter Dr Elizabeth Berryman (seated left, bronze skirt). Shane was honoured for his energy, passion and kindness at a recent dinner with family, friends and Blue Light supporters. Blue Light CEO Rod Bell (light blue shirt, standing at left), says: “Twenty-five years is three lifetimes in a job these days, let alone in the same area, and for a person to be here still and have the same spark, passion and drive is outstanding.”
‘Mr and Mrs Blue Light’ aka Shane and Kristol Gould. Says Shane: “Blue Light has been a lot of fun… at the start I thought I was too old for this job, but I’m still here… it’s been a great journey.”