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Members’ service to the RSA recognized
-by Jessie Johnston

[Caption: From left, district president Derek Nees, Noel Woolf, Rick Williams, Terry Richardson and national president BJ Clark, at the Richmond Waimea RSA lunch on Saturday, where Noel, Rick and Terry received their service awards. Photo: Jessie Johnston.]

The Richmond Waimea RSA used their Christmas lunch event to recognize the long service given to the organization by three outstanding members, Rick Williams, Terry Richardson and Noel Woolf. Rick was recognised for 20 years of service with a Gold Star, while Terry and Noel both received Merit Awards for 15 years of service.
‘We know the meaning of service because we’ve all done military service, but now we’re honouring these men for their service to our own members,’ says Richmond Waimea RSA president Ross Norgate. ‘It’s been many a year since anyone got a gold star within the Waimea RSA, it’s the highest form of recognition’.
National President BJ Clark who attended the lunch, says ‘The RSA is a voluntary organization. So the only way that we can acknowledge the amazing service and support our members give is through these presentations’.

‘The Merit is our first national award, and that’s normally at around seven to ten years of service. At 15 years, they receive the badge and certificate. To get a Gold Star, they’ve not only got to have been involved at local level, but at national level as well’.
Once a nomination has been made, it is reviewed by all eight district presidents, two national vice- presidents and the national president, before being voted on.
‘So these awards aren’t given out lightly’, says BJ.
After 20 years of service, a highlight for Rick is administering the mobility scooter fleet.
‘It’s the look on the face of the person we are giving it to, and the realization that they’ve regained some independence in their life. I’m Richmond born and bred, the Richmond Waimea RSA farewelled me when I left to attend Sandhurst and it’s a great honour to have been able to put something back into the organization,’ says Rick.

Blast from the past for old soldiers

Caption: [Opening the replica RSA bar at Willow Bank last week were, from left, RSA members Ian Hutchings, Derek Nees, Dave Laws, Mason Robinson, Terry Richardson, Jill Godbaz, Ralph Bradley and Barry Pont. Photo: Simon Bloomberg.]

RSA members stepped back in time at Willow Bank Heritage Village near Wakefield last week when they attended the opening of a 1970s replica RSA clubrooms, complete with a wall of historic photos of some of the Nelson-Tasman region’s returned servicemen.

Willow Bank’s Christine Grieder says they initiated the project to ‘remember all soldiers, the dead and the living.’

The RSA helped out, making sure the small building was authentic as possible and providing some historic items to help furnish and decorate the room.

‘Years ago, every little town had their own RSA similar to this one, so it brings back memories’, Nelson-Malborough-West Coast RSA President Derek Nees says. ‘I remember when there were RSA buildings Tapawera, Takaka, Ngatimoti and Murchinson, but they’re all closed now.’

Although many of the region’s outlying RSA buildings have closed and been sold, Derek says the RSA movement is as strong as ever.

He says the modern RSA is focused on ‘engaging with veterans and supporting them when they need help’, rather than just investing in property.

A wall honouring many of region’s old soldiers and a 1970’s style bar, are the center pieces of the Willow Bank RSA. It also features an authentic 1919 map of the Front Line, while outside and ex-army Jeep and Vickers machine gun provide appropriate garden art.

Christine says it’s an ‘incredible honour’ to have both the Nelson and Richmond Waimea RSA involved in the project and offered to make the building available for their meetings. Nelson RSA president Dave Laws responded by saying they would make Christine an honorary member of the branch.

[Source; Waimea Weekly, Wed 6 December 2017, Simon Bloomberg]

Geoff finally gets his medal

[Captions for photos: Geoff Trow during his service in Cyprus. Richmond man Geoff Trow with the medal he received for serving with the British Army in Cyprus. (Photo: Simon Bloomberg).]

 (by Simon Bloomberg, Wiamea Weekly, Wed, 2 Nov, 2016)

It has been a long wait for Richmond returned serviceman Geoff Trow who, this week, finally received recognition for his service during the Cyprus emergency in 1959.

Geoff joined the British Army in 1955 when he was just 15, training as an engineer with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers at Chepstow in South Wales. He was posted to Cyprus in January 1959 where he helped operate Auster spotter planes and support transport operations against the Greek-Cypriot nationalist guerrillas fighting to end British rule in Cyprus.

However, Geoff had to wait 60 years to be presented with a general service medal for fighting in the emergency in which 450 British soldiers were killed. Geoff received the medal in a belated ceremony at the Richmond-Waimea RSA Clubrooms at Club Waimea in Tuesday after the criteria for the medal was changed in 2005.

‘They only awarded the medal if you had served in Cyprus for 120 days. But they reviewed that in 2005 after realizing that the criteria for the medals was inconsistent and changed it to three months.

‘I didn’t know about the change until six months ago when I saw it online and that’s when I applied for it. It arrived a month ago and Ross (Norgate, Richmond-Waimea RSA president) heard about it and organised a ceremony.

‘I didn’t want to make a fuss about it but I thought it was important to do it to honour all the people who served in Cyprus. I am pleased they received recognition as it was a significant conflict.’

After serving in Cyprus, Geoff went to Tripoli and then Mombasa and Nairobi where he joined a peace-keeping force following the Mau-Mau uprising. He was subsequently posted to Aden, Kuwait, England and finally Germany where he spent a year training with other NATO forces.

Geoff left the army in March 1963 and emigrated to New Zealand in June 1964.