#69 "Dame Shaz" leads by example

Be. Leader Sharon Davies is doing her best to stay grounded after being awarded a Queen's Service Medal for services to the community.

"I'm just trying to keep level-headed about it," she says. "The hoopla is not really my scene - I don't do what I do for recognition."

Despite this, she has received plenty of good wishes and some gentle ribbing from workmates at the Waitakere Ranges Local Board since the Queen's Birthday Honours were announced.

"The day after the announcement, I just arrived at my desk and carried on working," says the woman her colleagues now call "Dame Shaz".

A participant in this year's Be. Leadership programme, Sharon has been deeply involved with various community issues, initiatives and organisations in the Waitakere area since 1994. The chair of The Swanson Railway Station Trust, she counts working closely with stakeholders to improve access to the station among her personal highlights.

Her experience of living with disability, including being institutionalised until her late teens, has instilled a strong sense of independence and an active approach to life. "You have to fight, just to be accepted, just to get on the train," she says. "In everything you do as somebody in a minority, you have to show we can do things like everyone else."

Needless to say, sitting on the sidelines isn't her style: "Life is what you make it and what you get out of it. That's why I'm doing the Be. Leadership programme – I get in boots and all."

Sharon, a past Attitude Awards winner, will receive her medal at an investiture ceremony later this year. "The award is for services for the community and that's my passion" she says. "People are my passion - bringing people together and leading by example."