It’s a pretty common trait, particularly here in New Zealand. Many of us find it easier to hide from the limelight than to put ourselves out there. So when opportunity knocks, we sometimes stay quiet and pretend we’re not home.
It’s normal to have the odd concern, perhaps worry whether you’re experienced enough, or if you’ve waited too long to start something new. But the truth is that it’s never too early or too late to do your thing! The AMP Scholarships programme is simply about helping passionate people realise their dreams. It’s not limited by sports or grades. It’s not even limited by age. Lewis Hawkins is living proof of that.
Never too early
Lewis is only ten years old, but you wouldn’t know it from his vocabulary. Playing Scrabble is his thing, and in 2013 he became the youngest person to win an AMP National Scholarship. Only eight at the time, the win helped him make it to Dubai to compete in the World Youth Scrabble Championships.
Despite winning multiple competitions, and showing impressive enthusiasm and skill, funding a competitive Scrabble trip had proved tricky.
“Most large corporations only sponsor famous people like All Blacks,” Lewis notes, “but AMP helps people like me. People who are not famous and yet to reach their dreams.”
Lewis’ goal is to one day become the best Scrabble player in the world. And after placing first in the Under-10 and Under-12 age groups in Dubai, it’s clear he’s well on the way. And thanks to his AMP National Scholarship, he’s even gone on to come 7th overall at the World Youth Scrabble Championships in Sri Lanka. He doesn’t show any signs of stopping. A keen Scrabble enthusiast might call him tenacious. Or pertinacious. Or intransigent.
Never too late
Conversely Kath Johnstone left her thing a little later. She was in her early seventies when she discovered her love of competitive swimming. And it wasn’t until the age of 93 that she awarded her AMP National Scholarship to travel to the FINA World Masters swimming games in Italy.
Age is just a number to Kath. She believes if you’re passionate and determined to succeed, it doesn’t matter how many candles are on your birthday cake. She proved that by being the oldest competitor at the World Masters. And despite her focus simply being to compete, she also brought home five gold medals.
“You can’t tell someone my age what she can and can’t do. If she wants to, she’ll do it. And she’ll come out beaming. It doesn’t matter if I come first, second, fifth or tenth… although I’ll probably come first, as no one else is silly enough to still be competing in Masters swimming in their late nineties!”
Kath and Lewis are inspiring reminders that it’s never too early, or too late. AMP Scholarships aren’t bound by academic requirements or physical fitness. They’re not limited by gender, ethnicity or age. Anyone can choose to do their thing - the future starts today.