This morning at a special memorial service we remembered Ashburton Work and Income staff Leigh Cleveland and Peg Noble, who lost their lives in an attack by a member of the public on 1 September 2014.
I was honoured to award State Services Commissioner’s Commendations for Frontline Excellence to Leigh and Peg and to award another to the staff members and regional manager of Ministry of Social Development (MSD) Ashburton Community Link. The Commendations for Leigh and Peg were accepted by members of their families.
These Commendations were for the outstanding spirit of service and bravery shown during and after the attack. They were awarded at a ceremony in front of staff and their friends and families, as well as MSD officials, MSD Chief Executive Debbie Power, and Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni.
Leigh worked for MSD for close to 11 years. She was a dedicated case manager who always went above and beyond. Leigh genuinely cared about people and supported them to achieve their goals. She was motivated by a higher purpose – she wanted to serve her community.
Peg worked for MSD for nearly 22 years in several frontline roles. She was a talented and caring case manager and loved her job because she got to help people of her community, who held her in high regard. I believe that Peg epitomised what it means to be totally focused on the needs of others.
It was incredibly sad to award the Commendations to Leigh and Peg posthumously, but it was also moving to honour their dedication to the community and to meet the people close to them.
The entire Ashburton team carried out their work with the utmost care and professionalism prior to the attack, and they continue to do so. The team also showed great dignity and strength following the attack – and in the most trying of circumstances.
Commendations are awarded to individuals and teams who demonstrate exceptional care and commitment to New Zealanders, generate pride in the Public Service, and exemplify the spirit of service.
There is no doubt that today’s recipients are all thoroughly deserving of the award.