Lee Matson from Whanganui wins Beaver Tree Service’s community heroes competition


Lee Matson from Whanganui, left, is the local winner of Beaver Tree Service’s community heroes competition, seen with Beaver Tree Service staff members Antony Roebuck, and Rain Roebuck (father and son).

Lee Matson from Whanganui is the local winner of Beaver Tree Service’s community heroes competition on Facebook in celebration of Arbor Day.

“We asked people to nominate community heroes, someone who has worked hard for their community, and deserved a makeover on their trees,” said Hank, Taupō quoting manager for Beaver Tree Service.

The tree trimming took place on Monday, August 28.

“The response was great, and we had a number of community heroes nominated. We shortlisted a few, met with them, and made our final decision,” he said.


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Lee was nominated by Bev Absolom and Jen Barber, who said, “Lee Matson thoroughly deserves to win this, as he does so much for the Cancer Society, travelling to Wellington and Palmerston North weekly, with patients needing treatment.

Bev Absolom and Jen Barber nominated Lee Matson.Bev Absolom and Jen Barber nominated Lee Matson.

“Lee is always the first to offer help to anyone, but at the moment it is he who needs the help with his trees, as he is on a walking stick with a very sore knee. Please help him, Beaver Trees, he soooo deserves it,” they said.

Lee has been driving cancer patients for six years, he told Midweek. The reason why he was nominated is reflected in the statistics for his volunteering – a total of 840 volunteer hours, transporting 200 clients and driving 41,000km in his own car (he is reimbursed for travelling expenses).

Lee lost his wife seven years ago but had been donating his spare time in between jobs when he operated his shearing contracting business, which he has sold. For the last six years, Lee has been driving cancer patients two or three times a week to hospitals in Wellington or Palmerston North.


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This can mean a 6am start to make appointments in Wellington sometimes. Lee has no problem driving in Wellington, as he travelled extensively all over the lower North Island transporting shearing gangs when he operated his shearing contracting business.

“It makes you feel good when clients have received successful treatment, I enjoy volunteering,” he said.

He has lived in Whanganui all his life, working on farms, shearing, and then contracting – dealing with farmers all around Whanganui. He moved into the city in 1990, then out to live at Longbeach Drive in 1996.

Wednesdays are out for Lee, as this is his golfing day, and Cancer Society coordinator Theresa Webster schedules the driving duties around this.

Cancer Society Whanganui coordinator, Theresa Webster.Cancer Society Whanganui coordinator, Theresa Webster.

Webster started at the Cancer Society in 2020, prior to the lockdown.

“Lee Matson was driving then for the Cancer Society, he continued through lockdown, one of our members who kept the service running and getting people to treatment, which was amazing,” said Webster.

Minister of Health Andrew Little presented Lee with a certificate in 2022, acknowledging his work during lockdown.

“Lee is a good Kiwi bloke, always giving with his time – if we need, and he’s available, he’s there. He drives to Palmerston North, locally around Whanganui, and regularly to Wellington. He’s very professional but friendly, he gets on really well with the clients that he is driving – he’s just a really good guy,” Webster said.

“Whanganui is an extremely giving community, as a whole. If you experience a loss such as having your house burn down, the Whanganui community will rally around super fast. It just happens in all walks of life in this community.

“It is reflected in the volunteers we have, they’re just so giving of their time. They want to give to a cause that’s close to their heart, they feel is important to support,” Webster said.


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