Cancer Society stalwart paying it forward

17 Aug 2023 | Articles

John Pritchard - Cancer Society volunteer

John Partridge remembers the exact moment he made the commitment to give back to his ‘number one’ charity – the Cancer Society of New Zealand.

‘It was 6pm on 2 April 2009 when I woke up from a 10 ½ hour surgery for prostate cancer,he says. ‘I felt like they’d cut out everything that was of any use to me, but I was still alive, and I was ready to say: “You saved my life, what can I do to help you”.’

John says he had been a high-flyer, running his own international freight company making big bucks when his life hit a turning point in Autumn 2009. Fortunate to have medical insurance, his annual medical check-up detected a rise in his PSA levels and his doctor sent him off for a biopsy which revealed he had Stage 4 prostate cancer.

He says he remembers reaching out to the Cancer Society and the calm straightforward advice and support he was offered.

He can also recall the night, not long after he was on the road to recovery, that he turned up on Quay Street in Auckland’s CBD and met ‘Daffodil Joan’ (former long-time Cancer Society volunteer Joan Swift) to get his instructions to help with his first Daffodil Day.

He recalls her glowing ‘like a messiah’ in her daffodil-inspired outfit to initiate him.

John has been a Daffodil Day volunteer and area coordinator ever since and is a proud Cancer Society Auckland/Northland life member.

He also collects for several other causes – and can be found every Wednesday morning helping children at Edmund Hillary School in Papakura with their reading – but says he ranks Cancer Society his number one priority for his charitable time. The fact that the Papakura Men’s Probus Club President enlists his club members into collecting and doing volunteer driving shifts for the Cancer Society is testament to his commitment.

John’s collection area for the past 14 years has been Papakura/Takanini in South Auckland. He says having worked in sales all his life, he gets great joy in being involved and helping to spread the message of the great work the Cancer Society does, which is an easy sell.

He also enjoys talking to people on the day. “Everyone has a story to tell, and I listen to every one of them – some are sad, some are wonderful and hopeful, and so many want to talk about what the Cancer Society has done for them.”

So, if you happen to be in South Auckland on 25 August this year you may see volunteer superstar John zipping around helping his team of volunteers, part of a nationwide volunteer army of thousands of generous community-minded people who make the day happen.

Whether you drop something in their bucket or swipe/wave your eftpos card, your donation this Daffodil Day helps the Cancer Society of New Zealand provide safe transport for cancer treatment, helps provide accommodation for those travelling for treatment, contributes to research that improves cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment, and helps make sure nurses and counsellors are always there for people affected by cancer and their whānau.

Can you spare two hours to help people with cancer?

VOLUNTEER HERE as a Daffodil Day Street Collector on Friday 25 August and/or Saturday 26 August 2023

To find out more or donate today, visit

Volunteer Stories

Giving back to the community

After retiring and enjoying many years of family life, we both decided to try and put something back into the community.