30 years on trust makes worthy things happen

Above and beyond . . . Grants manager Carol Melville was a "super volunteer" in her own right, former Otago Community Trust chief executive Keith Ellwood said. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

It is the end of an era for the Otago Community Trust, as grants manager Carol Melville steps down after 30 years with the trust.

The tributes have been flowing for Mrs Melville, who finishes tomorrow, as past and present colleagues and community organisations express their gratitude for her expertise and support over many years.

Former Otago Community Trust chief executive Keith Ellwood said Mrs Melville was a “super volunteer” in her own right, and showed “enormous empathy towards people . . . who seek her guidance about funding applications”.

Mrs Melville was appointed as the first chairwoman in 1988, when the trust was established to take ownership of Trust Bank Otago.

The first donation was made that same year – a grant of $250,000 to help establish the Otago Community Hospice.

Mrs Melville remained chairwoman for 10 years, helping to steer the trust through the final sale of Trust Bank New Zealand in the mid-1990s for $131million.

After leaving the trust’s chair, Mrs Melville took on the role of grants manager, working with community groups and organisations, assessing their projects and helping ensure funding applications met the trust’s requirements.

“Over the years, I have gotten to know and understand the work of many, many people and groups in the community,” she said.

“I have been able to help them articulate their projects, and talk with them about how they can show the trust how they will benefit the wider community.

“It’s about getting to know the people and not just the project – to gain the confidence that they have the passion and determination to carry it through.”

Helping groups to make connections and find networking opportunities was also very important.

The role of grants manager involved a lot of travel around the Otago Community Trust’s vast area, which includes North, South and Central Otago, and the Greater Dunedin area.

“I have really enjoyed travelling around the region, meeting people and seeing their dreams come true,” she said.

In a career filled with highlights, Mrs Melville looks back with particular fondness on the trust’s efforts to expand broadband services into rural schools, and by extension their communities.

“It really opened up a whole new aspect of learning for those children, and the trust was able to make that happen.”

In Dunedin, the trust had supported the establishment or development of many community facilities, including the St Clair Hot Salt Water Pool, Moana Pool, the Regent Theatre, Forsyth Barr Stadium and more.

“It is interesting going around Dunedin and the region looking at facilities and knowing that we have helped with that.”

Mrs Melville expressed her thanks to the people who had shared their expertise with her over the years, and also to those who had spent time with her discussing projects.

“I have really appreciated how people have allowed me to be part of what they do, and to encourage them,” she said.

With a room full of fabrics and patterns waiting for her at home, along with her husband Stuart, children and grandchildren to spend time with, Mrs Melville will have plenty to keep her busy.

“It has been a privileged to be part of so many communities, and so many amazing projects for the past 30 years.

“And now it is time to focus on me.”

Today the trust’s investment portfolio stands at more than $290million, and it has granted $160million towards a huge array of projects across Otago.

In the 2017-18 year, the trust approved 232 applications in the Greater Dunedin area, distributing a total of $4,434,462. Most grants are between $500 and $5000.