“What’s best for people affected by cancer?”. It’s a question Murray Loewenthal asked himself countless times during his tenure as president of the Waikato/Bay of Plenty Cancer Society – and one he says helped guide him through every decision.
The Ōtorohanga local, who served on the Cancer Society’s board for 17 years, was awarded an honorary life membership on Wednesday in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the organisation.
It’s the society’s top accolade, held currently by only seven people.
“I was delighted to receive this award, but in many ways it’s not fair for me to get the glory. It’s the donors, the many volunteers and the staff who really make it happen,” says Murray.
“And my wife Heather deserves a lot of recognition too – she’s been behind me all the way and has helped with Daffodil Day for 30 years.”
Murray and Heather moved to Ōtorohanga in 1965 and say the town and its people are part of what motivates them to volunteer.
“The community has been so good to us, and we wanted to give back,” says Murray.
Of his many significant contributions to cancer services, the Cancer Society’s Lions Lodge is arguably the one Murray is most proud of.
Murray was instrumental in developing the Hamilton facility, which provides free accommodation for people who need to travel for cancer treatment at Waikato Hospital. He was determined that the Lodge, and its services, would be second to none.
“People who are going through cancer deserve the best. The Lodge isn’t just a place to stay – it tells clients they’re important; they matter. For me that encapsulates the spirit of what we’re all about.”