Recipients of the Queen’s Service Order share some common threads – including selflessness, excellence, and a commitment to service. Among this year’s recipients is John Dobson, founding trustee of Life Unlimited Charitable Trust, founded over 40 years ago, now known as Your Way | Kia Roha
Dobson was a trustee since the organisation’s inception as the Disabled Living Centre (Waikato) Trust in 1979 and became chair in 1991.
The organisation was founded when three charities looking after various parts of the disability sector decided they needed to work more closely together. The Trust’s aim was to look for gaps and meet the needs of the disabled communities, such as transport and employment. Now, 40 years later, John Dobson (QSO) has been recognised in the New Year Honours List – 2023 to be a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for his significant service to the people with disabilities.
It’s been a long journey since the organisation got its start in a house rented from council for just $40 a week. “You would have a board meeting in the back and if you dropped a marble on the floor as you got up from the table, it would beat you to the front door. It was a shocking building, but it pulled us all together and gave us a home.”
Now, 40 years later, not-for-profit organisation Your Way | Kia Roha is responsible to people who access its services which includes:
- Connections & Funding services in the Hutt Valley, Tairāwhiti, Taranaki, Whanganui and Otago / Southland.
- Free and independent national Hearing Therapy services.
- Disability and autism information and advice.
- Waikato community programmes for people with disabilities.
- Tupu Aotearoa Pasefika service in Wellington.
- An extensive range of products through its Mobility Centre stores in Lower Hutt, Hamilton, Papamoa, Hastings and online.
“What underpins it for me is the word ‘equality’,” Dobson said. “I think everyone should have the same opportunities in this society and that’s what we’ve got to work to.”