by Roger Booth
The passing of the Age Concern Kapiti Coast General Manager Dermot Whelan has shocked not only the Age Care community, but those he has been associated with for many years in a range of administrative roles he has previously had across several sporting codes.
Whelan has been in his current role for over ten years and leaves a legacy of hard work in an essential service organisation. The Age Concern Kapiti Chairman Roger Booth said that ‘the likes of Dermot are very hard to find. In our organisation, totally dependent on grants and raised funding, Dermot was assisted mainly by part-time staff and volunteers, and just maintaining this sort of structure is a constant battle. Dermot was a very competent and experienced administrator, was hugely respected across the community, and in an organisation that this year has suddenly become even more relevant. He was great to work with, and will be very sorely missed.’
Whelan, who was 72, was born and raised in Ireland, and had a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University College of Dublin. Initially he was employed as a chartered accountant, and was Audit Manager of the Union Shipping Group.
He then was involved in four different roles in tennis administration, based in the Renouf Centre in Wellington, for ten years, including Manager of the Centre. He then fronted a weekly radio show ‘Golftalk’ and published a local golf magazine ‘Driving Force’ for three years, before employment as General Manager of Omaha Beach Golf Club.
Whelan then became well-known locally as General Manager of Paraparaumu Golf Club for three years from 2003. He then worked as a freelance journalist, before taking up his role with Age Concern Kapiti Coast.
Age Concern Kapiti is part of a service organisation, working very closely with many people in a community that has a higher percentage of elderly citizens than most in the country. Regular work within the community is concentrated particularly on a Visiting Service, Health Promotion, “Steady as You Go” classes, and for many years Elder Abuse and Neglect support. Whoever links with the office in Coastlands by phone or in person becomes an immediate concern for the organisation.
It is also in its third year driving a community project, Age Connect Kapiti, linking across the district in an effort to help people feeling isolation. Through the recent lockdown situations Dermot Whelan has ensured that Age Concern Kapiti Coast has continued to assist the community to reach out to those who needed support.
He clearly knew well his community, and a host of people knew him, and it will be a challenge both for his organisation and for the district to continue as well into the future without him.