Viv Broughton, QSM


Vivien Mary Broughton has lived all her life in Blenheim. She has contributed to the well-being of countless people. This was acknowledged in 2011 when, aged sixty-two, she was awarded a Queen's Service Medal.

The advisory letter from Government House that came in November 2010 was a complete surprise. Anand Satyanand, the Governor General, wrote ‘I am delighted to inform you that Her Majesty The Queen has been pleased to award you The Queen's Service Medal in recognition of your services to the community'. Viv was only able to share the news with Les, her husband of forty-four years. It was to be their secret for the next eight weeks.

Viv Broughton receiving the Queen's Service Medal from the Govenor General
Click image to enlarge

The honours were announced on New Year's Day, 2011. The Broughton household's phone started ringing. Congratulatory letters came from various MPs, the Mayor, the Marlborough District Council and the Marlborough Historical Society Inc. and lots of well wishers.

Les met Viv when they were both fifteen. They married young. The local MP sent a congratulatory letter for their Ruby wedding anniversary in 2009. As a self-employed carpet layer, Les could be flexible with his hours. He played an active role in family life so that Viv could pursue her interests. She and Les have always been generous with their time and donations.

Viv's had lengthy involvement with groups like Alzheimers Marlborough, the Cancer Society, Hospice Marlborough, Marlborough Netball Association, St Mary's Old Girls Netball Club (SMOG - she hung up her boots in 2010), Red Cross and the Wairau Garden Club.

Viv Broughton. Still playing netball in 2010. Image supplied by author

For her services to sport, she was awarded a Service Award by both the Blenheim Amateur Swimming Club and Marlborough Netball.  She is a life member of  St Mary's Netball Association. She has also been awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship, Rotary's highest honour, seldom given to a non-Rotarian. The 2008 citation noted her ‘enormous contribution to the well-being of our society over many, many years by her tireless work for many organisations'. It acknowledged  ‘her caring and can-do-attitude' and paid tribute to ‘the cheerful and unstinting help' she provided wherever she was involved.

On Monday June 2nd 2008 readers of page 3 of The Marlborough Express would have seen yet another picture of trim, tall, smartly dressed Viv with her curly halo of silver hair smiling while seated on a motorised lime green couch. This unusual ride around the Redwoodtown School grounds was in recognition of being crowned a ‘local legend' by the Limelight Charity Couch tour. Daughter Lyree was behind the nomination. She wanted recognition for her mother's ‘endless energy' and referred to the fact that she was still playing netball up to her sixties.

Also included in that article is Viv's explanation for her considerable involvement. ‘I love Blenheim and I love doing things for the community'. She explained that initially her energies were centred around family and sports, including a lot of netball coaching.

Working her way up within her favourite organisations gave her the skills and confidence to become involved in fundraising projects. In the 1980's she was part of a team behind building the indoor swimming pool. This has just been replaced in the recent $16.5 million Stadium 2000 upgrade; a revamped aquatic centre opened in 2012.

Viv has also participated in Brayshaw Park administration committee activities, including Heritage Day promotions and worked alongside Steve Austin, Marlborough Museum's chief executive. Marlborough Express readers have seen how smart she looks in period clothing.

Viv and Les Broughton. Image supplied by author

Together, she and Les have done a lot of behind the scenes work with and for the Marlborough Vintage Car Club, also based at Brayshaw Park. This includes harvesting the on-site olive trees and returning them, via the Marlborough Community Olive Press, as bottled olive oil to sell as a fundraiser.

She says that ‘Marlborough people are wonderful when it comes to fundraising. Businesses are also great, I don't think I have ever been turned down'. While this says a lot for local generosity it also speaks volumes about her popular and engaging high profile. Viv is a real driving force when she gets going but she's fun to be around when she is in action. People come on board projects because of her.

Another significant area of contribution has been supporting physical activity sessions that have evolved into the current Circuit Group. Classes and their administration over the years have been under various arrangements with Sport Marlborough and the Marlborough Amateur Weightlifters Association (MAWA). Attendees have at different times been cajoled both by daughter Kirsty and mother Viv in trainer roles.

The sessions, especially popular with women, provide an opportunity for participants to work on their fitness and flexibility. Some are widows who've nursed husbands through challenging circumstances. Others are newcomers to the district. Many are just fans of Viv's vitality. In typical selfless form, in 2012 she upgraded her red convertible Rover to a car that was easier for ‘my ladies to get in and out of'. 

A proud fifth generation Malburian, Viv (née Newman) grew up in a caring household. Mother Maisie showed kindness through baking for others. Father Claude (Bob) was a real estate agent with New Zealand Farmers' Co-op so he knew the value of positive interactions. He was very community minded and demonstrated his helpful attitude throughout his life. Catholicism also played a dominant part throughout Viv's home and schooling.

Their three adult children, Lyree, Corey and Kirsty, are bringing up their own families in Blenheim and following their parents' model. For Viv and Les, ‘volunteering is a wonderful thing to do'.

This article was submitted as part of a Nelson Marlborough Insititute of Technology Creative Writing assignment, 2013. Updated May 2020

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