Trib­ute to cou­ple who loved the beach

Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough - - WHAT’S ON -

They once walked along the beach here at Rarangi. Now their ashes have re­turned to the place they loved.

There is a bench to re­mem­ber them. At Rarangi, the place they once called home; the beach and ocean they were once in­spired by, is now a fit­ting site for the memo­rial to Fran and John Wilks.

On a cold and windy af­ter­noon at Rarangi beach, the un­set­tled sea rages against the stones on the shore. Cathee Wilks, Fran and John’s daugh­ter, and grand­daugh­ter Steph McClure sit on the wooden bench they in­stalled in 2010 to the mem­ory of their lost loved ones. The pair re­mem­ber Fran and John for their love of the peo­ple and the beach here in Marl­bor­ough.

Rarangi has al­ways been a spe­cial place for our fam­ily. With Mum and Dad gone, we thought it would be nice to have some­thing to draw us back to the beach … We wanted to have a seat some­where to be able to re­flect,’’ says Wilks.

Fran and John moved to Rarangi from Ren­wick in 1988. The cou­ple en­joyed spend­ing time by the ocean and walk­ing their dog Pep­per. Fran was a war child refugee, evac­u­ated out of the UK dur­ing WWII to New Zealand with her brother when she was just eight-years-old. She would go on to be fos­tered by var­i­ous fam­i­lies in New Zealand be­fore settling in Marl­bor­ough.

‘‘Mum re­ally re­ally loved the beach ... and we de­cided that we wanted some­where to re­mem­ber them, be­cause, you know, we didn’t have them any­more,’’ sayid McClure.

And be­cause they liked the beach we de­cided that a bench would be a re­ally nice thing to put here. It was a re­ally spe­cial place for our fam­ily ... lots of mem­o­ries of hol­i­days and grand­kids. So, we de­cided to put the seat out here so that every­one could en­joy it, look out to the sea and re­mem­ber them.’’

When the cou­ple both passed away – John in 2003 and Fran in 2010 - they were cre­mated, and the fam­ily had their ashes spread at Rarangi.

‘‘I re­mem­ber Mum used to pick up hitch­hik­ers on the way home to Rarangi and give them a bed for the night. She was a very kind per­son.’’

Af­ter get­ting per­mis­sion from the Rarangi Fire Chief, they just needed to in­form DOC where they pre­ferred to have the seat.

‘‘Then DOC and the coun­cil had the seat in­stalled for us. They were very ac­com­mo­dat­ing,’’ says Wilks.

‘‘DOC gave us a cou­ple of op­tions,’’ says McClure. ‘‘And let us de­cide what site we wanted, they helped put it in, and ev­ery­thing, so they were fan­tas­tic.

‘‘We wanted a wooden one be­cause dad was re­ally into wood­work. Mum was re­ally into po­ems and writ­ing po­etry and she did lots of art. So, we etched a line from one of her po­ems on the bench.’’

Fran would go on to to win a po­etry prize for Sea Mar­ket, her poem about Rarangi, at the NZPS In­ter­na­tional Po­etry Com­pe­ti­tion, and a line from it is carved into the wood: ‘‘The beach is open for busi­ness as usual.’’

‘‘Fran was in­spired by the ocean in her work and po­etry,’’ says Wilks. ‘‘The bench and mum’s poem are a trib­ute for those who loved the ocean.’’

PHOTOS: DAVID JAMES/STUFF

Harry McClure, left, Steph McClure, Cathee Wilks and Lot­tie McClure sit and en­joy the mem­o­ries of their loved ones – Fran and John Wilks.

A line from Fran Wilk’s award-win­ning poem Sea Mar­ket is carved into the the wooden back of the bench.

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