An­zac Day ser­vices across Otago

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS -

Not many civil­ians can say they have fired off a 25-pounder field gun.

Dressed in pe­riod cos­tume, and feel­ing both ner­vous and proud, He­len Zon­n­eveld got the hon­our of fir­ing off two gun salutes in front of thou­sands at the An­zac ser­vice in Alexan­dra.

Zon­n­eveld’s fa­ther, Nor­man McGe­orge of Alexan­dra, was the one meant to be sit­ting on the field gun but sadly passed away be­fore he got the op­por­tu­nity.

McGe­orge, a K-Force gun­ner in the Korean War, was the sec­re­tary, wel­fare of­fi­cer and pa­tron of the Alexan­dra Re­turned Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion and had been the old­est gun­ner in Cen­tral Otago up un­til his re­cent death.

Zon­n­eveld said she had been cho­sen to take her fa­ther’s place be­hind the gun as she was the old­est of three daugh­ters.

‘‘I feel very priv­i­leged to stand in for my dad.’’

Her dad knew be­fore he died he had been cho­sen to fire the salute at this year’s spe­cial An­zac ser­vice mark­ing the 100th an­niver­sary of the Gal­lipoli cam­paign, she said.

His other daugh­ter from Christchurch had trav­elled to Alexan­dra to join Zon­n­eveld and her fam­ily, and their mother, for the ser­vice.

Alexan­dra RSA mem­ber John Til­leyshort said to be given the job of fir­ing the field gun was a spe­cial hon­our. A piper is back­grounded by 88 crosses re­mem­ber­ing sol­diers from the Wakatipu who died in WWI at the Queen­stown dawn ser­vice.

‘‘There would not be very many civil­ians in New Zealand who could say they have fired a 25-pounder.’’

Til­leyshort, with Brian Don­ald­son and Alan Prat­ley, were re­spon­si­ble for res­ur­rect­ing the field gun into work­ing or­der.

The gun could fire from about Alexan­dra to Clyde, he said.

This year’s An­zac ser­vice was made ex­tra mem­o­rable for the crowd with two fly-overs by a war­plane which fired shots into the sky.

A lot of ef­fort went into other ser­vices around Cen­tral Otago. At Ban­nock­burn a spe­cial fea­ture was the re-en­act­ment of the Otago Mounted Ri­fles Brigade. Richard

He­len Zon­n­eveld pre­pares to fire a salute in hon­our of her late fa­ther Nor­man McGe­orge who was meant to be fir­ing the field gun at the An­zac ser­vice in Alexan­dra. She is pic­tured with (from left) Alan Prat­ley, Brian Don­ald­son and John Til­leyshort who re­stored the de­com­mis­sioned gun.

Dawn at Lake Hawea on An­zac Day.

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