An unexpectedly fine morning and an abundance of holidaymakers still about town made for a crowded Anzac Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph in downtown Raglan last Friday.
With seating for official guests also pushed out into the street by the security fencing surrounding the under-refurbishment council offices, it was a packed affair and few of the hundreds who turned out to pay their respects to those who gave their lives during wartime had an unimpeded view of proceedings.
However that did little to detract from an occasion which Raglan RSA president Colin Hodkinson described as “particularly good this year”. He said numbers were up and there was some very positive feedback, a lot of it from people in town for the long weekend.
He cited the case of a visitor who came across to talk to him as he was taking down the flag mid-afternoon. “She said it was a wonderful service, mentioned how well the young boy [Anzac essay competition winner Lennox Reynolds] spoke and said it was good to see such a great community spirit in Raglan.”
In typical laidback Raglan fashion it was looking only a quarter hour or so out from the start of the service that some of the usual parade participants might have gone AWOL.
But then almost flash-mob style the parade suddenly came together in Wainui Road and the revived Raglan Pipe Band – its numbers bolstered for the occasion by out-of-town band members – led off the short march to the Cenotaph followed by the Red Cross donkey, two soldiers on horseback, a good turnout of local war veterans, the army, navy and air force and finally the various local services.
All present, Colin Hodkinson then gave a brief welcome – mentioning first the “lovely fine incorrectly forecasted day” – before turning it over to the Anglican Church’s Kathleen Gavin and local kaumatua Sean Ellison to conduct a largely traditional Christian-based service.
But even that was not entirely without a Raglan flavour, with local muso and Raglan Mudsharks co-founder Dave Maybee propping up the singing of ‘How Great Thou Art’ with guitar accompaniment.
Proceedings culminated – as is Anzac Day tradition – with wreath-laying, the Last Post, a Silence, the Ode and then, in a relatively recent departure from tradition, the national anthems of both Australia and New Zealand.
One of the top army brass taking part in last Friday’s service was Colonel Barry Dreyer, who Colin Hodkinson describes as a “kind of a patron” of the 16th Field Regiment of which 161 Battery is a part. The Linton-based battery was “adopted” by Raglan during the Vietnam War years, and it was Colonel Dreyer who led the battery’s first ‘Freedom of the City’ parade in Raglan 40-odd years ago.