Ken Harper nominated for NSW Community Grandparent of Year 2014
Abigail and Poppa Ken Harper, who spends about an hour every day volunteering in Soldier’s Point Public School’s reading recovery program, has been nominated for NSW Community Grandparent of the Year 2014. Picture Peter Stoop KEN Harper’s treasured granddaughter Abigail is many things: loving, bubbly and articulate.
‘‘But most of all, she’s my mate,’’ Mr Harper said.
‘‘When she sits in the back of the car you’ll catch her eyes in the rear view mirror and she’ll say ‘Love you Poppa’ – that’s really special.’’
Mr Harper visits his daughter’s home every morning to pick up the seven-year-old and take her to Soldiers Point Public School, where for three years he has also been a grandparent figure for many of her classmates.
He spends about an hour every day volunteering in the school’s reading recovery program, which includes listening to a student read aloud and providing corrections for any mistakes, before meeting with four students and using games to help improve their literacy skills.
For this work and for also acting as a chaperone on various excursions, the school has nominated Poppa Ken – as some of the teachers call him – as one of three finalists for Community Grandparent of the Year.
It is one of three categories in the NSW Grandparent of the Year awards, with winners to be announced in Sydney on Sunday.
‘‘I honestly don’t consider that what I’m doing is very much at all,’’ he said.
‘‘What I do is an absolute pleasure and privilege and this nomination was the last thing I expected.’’
Mr Harper also looks after Abigail after school and during the holidays while his daughter is at work, helping with homework and to indulge her current fascination with dragons.
But for everything Mr Harper does for his granddaughter, he says she does even more for him.
He was a full-time carer for 13 years for his late wife, who passed away in January 2011 after a long illness.
‘‘I was a lost soul – you come out of a caring job and think ‘I have nothing to do’,’’ she said.
‘‘Helping my daughter with Abigail was a blessing in disguise.’’
‘‘I just hope she knows – and I think she does – that no matter what happens in the world, she can confide in Poppa and he can get to the bottom of things and try to make things better.’’