Award for cycle trail leader

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Clutha District Council (CDC) was proud to honour Murray Paterson with a Community Service Award for his effort and services in leading the work on the Lawrence to Waihola Clutha Gold Trail.

‘‘His down›to›earth ability and experience make him a very valuable member of the group,’’ the CDC award committee said.

‘‘His work as a volunteer and the way he has diplomatically and wisely dealt with the many challenges have been above the call of duty.’’

Mr Paterson has been dedicated to the development of the Clutha Gold Trail since its inception in 2006, and when a new group was formed to extend the cycle trail from Lawrence to Waihola, the lifelong Lawrence farmer was elected chairman.

‘‘You’d notice how many vehicles carrying bikes drove past on their way elsewhere. I was aware of the success of the Otago Central Rail Trail and keen on the concept of bringing more people to our district,’’ Mr Paterson said.

He was involved in planning, budgeting and route selection, and liaised with volunteers, suppliers, engineers, contractors and about 50 private landowners between Roxburgh and Waihola.

‘‘Sometimes trail work has taken up all day but it’s never felt like a job,’’ he said.

‘‘The generosity and co› operation of landowners has been very affecting.

‘‘Everyone involved deserves thanks, but the biggest volunteer job might be treasurer. Ours were excellent, applying for funding and managing $12 million worth of finance. Contractors really took pride in their responsibilities, which is important when private owners are sharing their land.’’

The obvious route was not always possible, but in a lot of cases the result was a better, more varied and family friendly trail, he said.

‘‘There’s a lot of special bits, but the section on the old railway between Round Hill and Mt Stewart will be a favourite with two tunnels and the old viaduct to ride over.’’

Final completion of the Clutha Gold Trail Lawrence› Waihola section is targeted for early next year.