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Shaun O'Neill

Airport Ambassador

Meet Shaun, one of our valued Airport Ambassadors who has been with the airport since the programme started! He shares with us his experiences from working for the Fire Service and going to Antarctica, to coaching the blind at indoor bowls and ticking sky diving off his bucket list (just last year!).


How long have you been an Airport Ambassador for? I’ve been here since day one of the programme in July 2010, so ten years now. I’m one of the originals alongside nine other Ambassadors who started at the same time as me and are still at the airport too.

That’s an impressive milestone, what has made you stay for ten years? The people and getting to know everyone in this special community.

What does an Airport Ambassador do each day? We are based at the information desks and endeavour to answer all the queries that come to us. We help make people’s airport experience enjoyable and stress free. It’s all about helping people.

What do you love most about your job? I think if you are going to volunteer to do something, you are doing it to help people. I get a great deal of satisfaction from helping someone, especially when it puts a smile on their face. I also love the social aspect! I’ve met so many great people.

Favourite airport memory? Meeting the terrific people who work at the airport. From airport staff to the cleaners, right through to pilots and retail staff, each with different backgrounds and interesting life stories. There has never been a day where I don’t want to come to the airport.

Why did you choose to volunteer? I know I’ve said it before, but I really enjoy helping people. It’s been intertwined in my life since 1955 when I started as a volunteer fire fighter. I went on to become full time and was with the Fire Service for 42 years. I retired 25 years ago and have been doing volunteer work ever since to both help people and keep active, including at Orana Park and The Blind Foundation where I helped to coach indoor bowls.

What’s one thing people may not know about you? I went to Antarctica in 1985, I was training the people who live there about fire safety and fire fighting techniques. I convinced my manager at the time that I couldn’t train anyone in an environment I wasn’t familiar with, so off to Antarctica I went! It was beautiful, heavenly and very cold! Top tip: never ever upset the cook while in Antarctica…

We’ve heard you have a bucket list. What’s something you have ticked off and what’s something you still want to do? Last year I was lucky enough to sky dive with my 14 year old great grandson in Kerikeri! It was very special and not many people would get the chance to do that. Next up is a bungy jump.

What is your favourite travel destination? United States, UK, east coast of Australia, Auckland… anywhere really, I just love travelling and visiting my family.

 

Over the years Shaun has had a long history of volunteering and managing volunteers from different organisations. The knowledge and wisdom he has shared with me has been a great support and I believe part of the success of our Airport Ambassador programme is his support and mentorship. In fact, the programme is so successful we have waiting lists of people wanting to join!

– Jacqui Robertson, Park to Plane Support Manager who oversees the Airport Ambassador programme.