Anzac Day services impacted by covid

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There will be no Anzac Day service at the Ashburton Cemetery this year. Photo file.

Anzac Day remembrance ceremonies in Ashburton will go ahead, but on a smaller scale than past years due to covid, RSA Ashburton president Merv Brenton says.

The dawn service at the Ashburton Cenotaph on Baring Square West and the Civic Service and wreath laying will go ahead (minus the parade march), but there will be no cemetery service.

Mr Brenton said groups that would normally supply a wreath for the civic service were asked to deliver named wreaths to the Linton Lounge at the RSA on Sunday, April 24 between 1pm and 4pm.

‘‘The cadets will be laying all wreaths. Or groups could choose to lay their own wreaths at their convenience after the civic service is completed,’’ he said.

Groups will need to assemble around the cenotaph, rather than in parade formation, being mindful of others, wear masks and maintaining social distancing.

There were also going to be fewer services held in the surrounding districts. The Hinds and Rakaia commemorative services will go ahead; the Hinds service will be at the community hall, held outside from 10am, and the Rakaia service at the community centre where people are to assemble from 10am, service at 10.15am and a wreath laying service will follow.

Methven, and Mayfield and Districts have cancelled their services.

Speakers at Ashburton’s dawn service at 6.30am will include Mr Brenton and Ashburton Cadet Unit major Cezarne Rodgers.

And at the Civic Service at 11am, Mr Brenton will speak alongside Ashburton mayor Neil Brown as well as student leaders Jack Brown and Jorja Roulston from Ashburton College.

There had been many changes ahead of the day being impacted by covid, Mr Brenton said.

Defence force personnel nationwide, and cadet forces, were only just last week cleared to attend Anzac Day services in uniform, he said.

Anzac Day, on April 25, is a day of national remembrance, where the nation comes together to acknowledge the men and women who have served, been injured or died in service to their country.

The date, April 25, marks the anniversary of the landing of Australian and New Zealand soldiers – the ANZACs – at Gallipoli in 1915. Thousands lost their lives.

POPPY DAY STREET APPEAL

The annual Poppy Day street appeal will go ahead on April 22 and collectors will be out and about selling Anzac Day poppies for a gold coin donation.

The poppies will be sold from collectors on the streets and also be sold from boxes already in some businesses.

RSA president Merv Brenton urged people to get behind the annual fundraising event.

Around 80 percent of the referrals to RSA support services (a nationwide welfare network) came from friends and family who were concerned about their friend or partner, Mr Brenton said.

‘‘The RSA aim to make this easier and ensure service personnel and their families know we are able to help. The money raised from the national appeal goes to the RSA welfare fund to help returned, and service personnel.’’

Money raised in Mid Canterbury will stay in the district and support people in need, he said.

The RSA’s Poppy Appeal, which runs throughout April, hopes to raise awareness of New Zealand’s younger veterans while raising much needed funds for support services.

Veterans today were not acknowledged in the same way their predecessors were but still had a very real need for support.

RSA national president BJ Clark said many New Zealanders did not understand that even on peacekeeping missions our service people can be affected mentally and physically by both the environment they serve in, and the situations they are exposed to.

‘‘They come home with little fanfare, and return to a society that has no real understanding of what they’ve been part of,’’ he said.

In the last 30 years New Zealand had created over 30,000 veterans under the age of 50.

These men and women have served in areas from Bosnia to Timor Leste, Iraq, Afghanistan, across the Pacific and even Antarctica.

While most will return to their normal lives with no issues, some will struggle to reintegrate, they might be injured or experience ongoing mental health issues as a result of their service.