VSA extends its sympathy to the families and friends of two former volunteers, Steve Judson and Peter Blinkhorne. Both were still deeply involved in volunteering and development when they passed away suddenly early in January 2018.

Steve, 72, was a volunteer in Timor-Leste 2013-2014. He remained in the country after completing his assignment, taking on a range of business leadership roles and joining various community groups.

Steve Judson and Herman van Gessel PS

Steve Judson (right) and good friend Hermann van Gessel in Timor-Leste (Photo: Del Bovill).

While home in the North Shore for Christmas, Steve told his family how much the friendships with other volunteers and Kiwis meant to him. On returning to Dili, he went to Stanford Clinic feeling unwell but deteriorated rapidly and passed away from dengue fever on New Year’s Day.

This tribute on VSA’s website contains thoughts from fellow volunteer Herman van Gessel, who says “VSA and Timor have lost a wonderful friend”. A North Shore Times article noted that it had always been Steve’s lifelong dream to work in a developing nation.

Around 500 people attended his memorial service in Dili on 12 January and 20 friends went on one of his favourite Dili walks the following day. Eighty people were at a service at the North Shore Squash Club for Steve on 22 January, and 17 former Timor-Leste volunteers gathered for a memorial dinner in Wellington on 23 January.

Peter Blinkhorne thumbnailPeter, 65, was volunteering in Tanzania for the Australian volunteer organisation, AVI, when he suffered a sudden brain aneurysm on Christmas Day. He was taken to hospital in Arusha then transferred to Nairobi Hospital in Kenya. He never regained consciousness and passed away on 10 January.

Peter Blinkhorne Tonga

Peter Blinkhorne (centre, in red t-shirt) with fellow VSAers and locals in Tonga, 2016.

From New Plymouth and an accountant by profession, Peter was a long-time volunteer for VSA with seven financial and business-related assignments to his name. These included three in PNG and one each in Tonga, the Cook Islands, the Solomons and Tanzania, the latter the home of his first assignment and one of his favourites.

In this 2015 profile before he flew out to the Cooks for assignment number seven, Peter talked about how he enjoyed the 'minimalist and stress free lifestyle' of volunteering and the satisfaction of meeting assignment goals.

This NZ Herald article contains reminiscences and tributes from friends and family, with his brother Rusty Blinkhorne noting how active and healthy Peter had been. In this Taranaki Daily News obituary, headed "Cool, calm VSA work liked punctuality and simple living", former volunteer Te Kowhai Ohai warmly remembers her assignment with Peter in the Cook Islands.