Nelson RSA Patron John Beeching recognised for service

20/04/2021 2:10am
Mayor Rachel Reese presents John Beeching, 97, with the poppy bowl.
Mayor Rachel Reese presents John Beeching, 97, with the poppy bowl.

Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association (RSA) patron John Beeching, 97, was presented with a handmade poppy bowl by Mayor Rachel Reese at Stoke Rugby Club on Wednesday 14 April.

Born and raised in London, John was part of a Mosquito bomber crew that flew over Europe during World War II.

After spending seven years in Edmonton, Canada after the war, John emigrated to Nelson in 1960.

One of Nelson’s oldest residents, John has a long involvement with the RSA.

A recipient of the RSA’s Gold Star award for more than 20 years service, John was one of the first people to volunteer as a trustee.

John has also sold poppies at a table on Trafalgar Street with his wife, for many years.

His “claim to fame” is that he has probably recited Binyon’s Ode (They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old...) more times than any other RSA member.

He has recited it at the RSA on club nights, funerals, Bomber Command, Nelson Hospital, schools, and other ceremonies representing the RSA.

Jim Gordon, a woodturner from Hokitika made the bowl, which was presented to John, and is making more to give to individuals and RSAs around the country.

John still makes his way to work three days a week at the Cawthron Institute, where he works 1.5 hours each day as a repairman. He has been working in this job for the past 33 years.

Anzac Day commemoration events

There are plenty of Anzac commemoration events planned for Nelson as part of Tuku 21 Whakatū Heritage Month:

Saturday 24 April
  • Anzac Commemoration led by Nelson Cathedral, 9:15am – 9:45am, War Memorial on Piki Mai.
  • “Lest We Forget” Light Projections, 6.30pm – 10pm, Anzac Park. Booking required on 03 546 0200.

Sunday 25 April

  • Anzac Dawn Service is from 5.30am – 7am, Anzac Park, WWI Research and the Wall of Remembrance, 9am – 12pm, Founders Heritage Park.
  • Anzac Stoke Civic Service, 10.45am – 12.15pm at Nayland College Assembly Hall.

Related event

  • Operation Grapple - We Were There: A Photographic Portrait Exhibition of NZ Nuclear Test Veterans, 1 – 30 April,

Founders Heritage Park.

For further details go to the Tuku 21 Whakatū Heritage Month programme.