Anzac Day, a day for remembrance

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LEST WE FORGET: Ashburton Returned Services Association president Merv Brenton prepares for Poppy Day on April 19, and Anzac Day on April 25.
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Anzac Day is a day of national significance not only in New Zealand, Australia and Turkey, but also wherever there are members of the New Zealand Defence Force serving.

It’s a day of remembrance of those 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.

Ashburton RSA President Merv Brenton said there was an increasing number of people attending Anzac services in Ashburton.

‘‘Last year there was certainly a larger number of people attending the cemetery service, as people like to be with family,’’ Brenton said.

‘‘With our veterans ageing and the number declining, we have discussed with them and they agree there won’t be a parade this year. Youth groups, police, St John and the fire service are still welcome to join us in the cordoned-off area at the services at the cenotaph,’’ Brenton said.

‘‘This year for the first time there will be an official wreath laid on the Boer War memorial which has been moved from Baring Square East to West.’’

Brenton used to lay a wreath on the memorial prior to its move but there was no official event at the memorial.

Brenton has had a long association with Anzac commemorations. While not returned or having served himself, he has been involved with the Ashburton RSA for about 11 years, the last six as president.

From five-years-old until he left school at 15, he would lay the wreath on the Orari memorial as a way of remembering his uncle Mervyn Brenton killed in World War 2.

On April 19, members of Ashburton RSA and cadets will once again be out selling the red poppies of remembrance on street corners along East St and from a central shop on East St.

The money collected in the poppy appeal street and box located around the district goes to support the work of the RSA in Mid Canterbury.

There are other options to make a donation via scanning the QR code on the poppy collection box or going to the Givealittle page.

As well as the poppies, for those with a sweet tooth Cookie Time have produced a limited edition golden chewy oat cookie for purchase from the RSA. Rangiora RSA brought the idea to New Zealand having seen a similar idea at the Returned Services League in Australia.

The Ashburton RSA will this year hold three services in Ashburton; two services at the Ashburton cenotaph and a service at the Ashburton cemetery, but throughout the district there will be eight services of remembrance.

Returned Services Association (RSA) national president Sir Wayne (Buck) Shelford said the day remains as relevant today as it has always been. The RSA have been serving and supporting veterans and their families for 108 years.

Recently there has been discussion about modernising the organisation to attract new members, especially younger veterans but their core values of remembrance, support and advocacy haven’t and won’t change.

Anzac Day services in Mid Canterbury

6.30am – Dawn Service at the Cenotaph, Baring Square West. Speakers a member of the 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion from Burnham Camp and Ashburton RSA president Merv Brenton.

7.30am – Hakatere Marae service followed by breakfast (donation), attendees are welcome to take photos of wha ¯nua who have or are serving for display.

9am – Ashburton Cemetery service at the north flagpole service persons’ section. Speakers Jo Luxton Rangitata List MP and Ashburton RSA president Merv Brenton.

9.15am – Ealing Hall venue for Anzac Day service – followed by morning tea, please bring a plate. All welcome.

10am – Mayfield Red Poppy Association service Mayfield and Districts. Service in the Mayfield Memorial Hall, with speaker David Pitkethley. At about 11am, there will be an artillery gun salute in the Mayfield Domain, followed by morning tea .

10am – Methven service at Mt Hutt Memorial Hall, followed by morning tea in the hall.

10am – Hinds commemorative service will be held at the Hinds Hall

10.15am – Rakaia service at the Rakaia Community Centre wreath laying service to follow.

11am Civic Service and Wreath Laying at the Cenotaph, Baring Square West, Ashburton. Speakers Ashburton mayor Neil Brown and RSA president Merv Brenton.