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Derby man becomes President

By David Pine

Chris GarrettChris Garrett hails from England. His home town is Derby which is located some 200 km north of London. He describes his family as relatively poor, and from the age of 13, Chris took on a variety of jobs including paper rounds, working in a tailor’s shop, farm labouring, and helping his Dad lay carpets.

Chris left school at 16 and for the next 5 years became a trainee Quantity Surveyor while studying part time to obtain his qualifications. He then worked on various building sites through freezing English winters before the lure of Australia’s abundant sunshine caused him and a builder friend to head firstly to Perth in 1974, and then to Sydney. 

Work was plentiful in Sydney. Chris landed a job as Senior Quantity Surveyor on a large building site and stayed for two years. While there he met his future wife Trish who is from NZ. In 1976 they decided to move to NZ where Chris became a quantity surveyor for Fletchers in Auckland and later in Otago, where he was Fletchers’ Chief Quantity Surveyor for Otago and Southland. The couple’s two children Amie and Adam were born in Dunedin.

Following the sharemarket crash in 1987, work for Fletchers all but dried up in Otago and so Chris took 6 months leave of absence from Fletchers. The Garretts headed back to the UK to see if they would prefer to settle there. However, a combination of much higher property prices, together with more expensive and less accessible activities for the children, caused them to move back to NZ. There was no work for Chris with Fletchers in Dunedin but Wellington was booming and so the decision was made to move to Wellington, where the Garretts have lived ever since.

In 1989 Chris was made redundant from Fletchers, He describes himself as being “absolutely gutted” but soon landed a job with Cemac Interiors. Six months later he and a small group of colleagues were able to arrange a management buyout of Cemac, where Chris remained as General Manager until he retired in 2012.

Chris describes the birth of his two children Amie and Adam as “the most precious moments of my life.” It was therefore extraordinarily difficult for Chris and Trish to suffer the loss of Amie to bowel cancer in 2005 at the age of 24. Amie was a high achiever in all facets of her life. She became a top dancer, which sparked an interest in aerobics, in which she performed at a national level. She was also a Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award winner.

Adam works in Wellington as a Senior Facilities Manager for several of the capital’s larger buildings.

Chris has always been a community-minded individual. He is a Past President of Bayfield (Dunedin) Jaycees and a Past Deputy Regional Governor of Jaycees. He is a Past Chair of Western Suburbs Soccer Club. He joined Plimmerton Rotary in 2001 and has twice been a member of the Club’s Board. He became President-Elect in 2013 and President in June 2014. 

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