Getting his hands dirty for peace of mind

2019-10-01 06:00
Peter KnightPHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

Peter KnightPHOTO: Nomzamo Yuku

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Even in what he describes as his last days, Maitland resident Peter Knight is determined to do good for his community.

The 87-year-old is one of the top three finalists in the in 80 plus category of this year’s Community Champions Elders Awards.

The awards are presented by the People’s Post,TygerBurger and City Vision in partnership with Spec-Savers.

Knight wakes up at 05:00 daily – carries a rubbish bag or wheelie-bin, and picks up the dirt along the road.

He keeps it at his local church until it can be collected by the municipality.

Knight, who now has health issues, says he has been doing this for 78 years.

It all started at St John’s Catholic Church in Coronation Road at the age of nine. He voluntarily started cleaning the church premises and in front of the gate.

Knight says that was not enough as the road remained dirty. Then he started cleaning the rest of the road occasionally.

He has continued this voluntary service until today.

This, he says, allows him to go to bed a happy man every night, and the community appreciates him.

“I cannot stand seeing a piece of paper laying around. I used to do it for my father who would say, ‘pick up the papers even on your way to church’.

“I am angry at the school children that eat their chips and throw the packets anywhere. They have no respect for the environment or the elders,” says Knight.

He says he gets a mixed type of response from the community, with some appreciating and trying to help him where they can. However, some residents are simply not bothered by his daily efforts.

Sharing the story of his life, Knight says he has always been a responsible person, putting other people’s needs first.

He attributes his conduct to lessons from his late parents.

Knight says in his last days his father reminded him of the importance of taking care of his loved ones.

“My father asked me to take care of my mother and my siblings, and to always remember his teachings,” Knight says.

He had to honour his father’s will and help his mother raise the children. He was never married nor did he have children, but says he is a family person.

“I have always had a good relationship with my siblings. Yes, there would be misunderstandings and we would end up not talking to some, but I always loved them and their children,” he says.

Knight was nominated by fellow resident Esmeralda Alexander, who has been observing his role in the community over the last few years.

Alexander sees Knight as an inspiration to many in the community. She says despite his age, Knight still smiles and greets people while he is busy cleaning along the road. “He never moans, come rain or shine. I am grateful Mr Knight will get some recognition for his good deeds,” she says.

V The winners of the awards will be announced at a morning tea on 12 October in Cape Town. Winners and runners-up will walk away Shoprite vouchers and other prizes sponsored by TygerBurger, People’s Post, City Vision and Spec-Savers.

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