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John Towns

John Towns is one of our longest standing volunteers and advocates. He started Special Olympics Nelson 28 years ago after being inspired by colleague and Special Olympics New Zealand founder Grant Quinn. Grant presented at a conference with three intellectually disabled athletes seeking help setting up Clubs around New Zealand. Of the 800 people in the room, John was the only person who put his hand up.

The eagerness and selflessness that John displayed at this first meeting has carried through his career with Special Olympics New Zealand. He has been a stalwart supporter of Special Olympics Nelson ensuring the Club’s fundraising needs have always been met, the athletes have high quality sport offerings available, and that volunteers feel valued and enthusiastic.   
In 2012 John was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal for services to the community. Special Olympics received a special mention in his New Year Honours Listing. John has been a key member of the Special Olympics New Zealand bringing in support and expertise from family and friends as needed (including Rob Cameron, recipient of Special Olympics Distinguished Service Award), and daughter Penny who is a Special Olympics New Zealand coach and our resident photographer (a service she provides pro bono). 
At a recent Special Olympics Nelson event attended by more than 200 athletes and family members John says he realised many of them were there 28 years ago when he started the Club. “Just to have seen them grow, not only as athletes but as people, is just wonderful,” he says.
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