Mr Rashbrooke commented that he was pleased to present an ‘Eastbourne’ to the local library team on behalf of the Board. He noted that the library had always been at the centre of the community, particularly after the local Council office in Eastbourne was closed following amalgamation. He further noted that a generation of children had attended the library as did those wishing to borrow books, read papers and magazines or meet up and chat to friends.
He said that the library had done a great job in bringing the community together through supporting live music on the premises during music month or putting on displays from local organisations, Baby Bounce sessions for parents and toddlers and hosting a monthly book discussion get together.
He added that it was with heartfelt thanks to the whole team that the Board presented the ‘Eastbourne’.
The Chair commented that the greengrocer in Rimu Street was well known for its high quality produce and excellent service for the last 57 years. He thanked Jack, its founder, his wife Jenny and their family Jim, Tom, Richard, Sandra, Yuen Wei, Meiling and all the grandchildren.
He noted that the Lai family history in New Zealand began in 1919 at the end of the First World War. Jack Lai’s father emigrated to New Zealand. Like all Chinese immigrants he had to pay a cash bond of £100, approximately $9000 today. Jack’s father revisited China, returning in 1938 with his wife and son Jack. After school in New Zealand Jack started work at Dominion Motors in Wellington then moved to Dunedin, Auckland and Hawera. In 1945 he was working in a greengrocer’s shop in Miramar and it was there that Jack leaned the greengrocer’s trade. In 1953 Jack found a shop for sale in Eastbourne and with Jenny started a dynasty.
The first Lai shop was on the corner of Oroua and Rimu Streets. This was 57 years ago. It was a very old building and Jack was told by the Council to upgrade it – a costly business! The family worked hard running three shops at once. For about 10 years they owned a greengrocer shop sited where Physique Studio is now situated. In 1971 they built their first new shop on the corner and over the years built a row of shops in Rimu Street with accommodation upstairs. All members of the Lai family have worked hard as a team in their business over the years, some buying the produce, some preparing it and others selling it. They have also trained many Eastbourne teenagers as shop assistants.
The Lai family is an Eastbourne institution. No other retailer has served the community so well for so long. Fifty seven years and still going strongly providing high quality produce to the people of Eastbourne surely merits the gratitude of the community. The Eastbourne Award recognises this service and the place of the extended Lai family as citizens of Eastbourne.
Mr Wilshere commented that Ray Smith could be Eastbourne’s founding “Green Warrior”, working at the forefront of environmentalism since moving to Eastbourne in 1973. He was involved in replanting the Kowhai Track following the bush fire and he shared the views and passions that led to the formation of the East Harbour Environmental Association. He became its inaugural chair and 37 years on he was still a committee member. Working on the Track restoration he was acquainted with the pioneering work of the Eastbourne Forest Rangers – ‘doers’ who established much of the tracking and interpretation work enjoyed by residents of Eastbourne and beyond. As Chief Ranger since 1997 he had coordinated the Matiu/Somes volunteer ranger programme that had been the ‘eyes and ears’ for Department of Conservation rangers.