Sergeant Stewart now officer of merit
After 42 years as a police officer sergeant Ross Stewart has become an officer of New Zealand’s Order Of Merit.
He received the Queen’s Birthday honour for his youth aid work, a career he embarked on by chance.
Stewart owned a house in Auckland but worked in Wellington.
When a job came up in Auckland 33 years ago he applied – it happened to be a youth aid role.
“It was the best decision I ever made,” Stewart said.
“We are working with a group of people whose lives we can really change for the better.”
He credited support from his family and dedication of his youth aid and youth projects teams for his success.
Only in exceptional circumstances youth aid officers knew they had made a difference.
Years ago he was fishing with his children off the Napier wharf when a man approached him.
“He said, ‘you’re Ross Stewart – I just want to say thank you’.”
When the man was a teen Stewart would take him to school, pour his alcohol out when he was caught drinking and give him a “Ross Stewart” lecture after serious offending.
At the time the man thought these lectures were “crap” but when he was sent to prison he began thinking about Stewart’s words.
Since then he had given up drugs and alcohol, had a wife, children and found God.
“There hasn’t been a kid I worked with that hasn’t had an endearing quality,” Stewart said.
“Whether it was their sporting ability, personality or academics – for this guy it was his smile.
Photo caption – Sergeant Ross Stewart became an officer of New Zealand’s order of merit as part of the 2016 Queen’s Birthday’s honours.