Town could rely on the Can Man

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By FLORENCE KERR

Sa­muel Tur­rall, aka Sam the Can Man, will be re­mem­bered by the Toko­roa com­mu­nity as the guy who for decades scoured the town for alu­minium cans, how­ever, those that were close to Sam will re­mem­ber a lov­ing man who would take the shirt off his back to help those in need.

Mr Tur­rall, known to most as Sam, moved to Toko­roa in 1963 from Auck­land. ‘‘He loved Toko­roa im­mensely, it was home,’’ Mr Tur­rall’s niece Julie Her­bert said.

Mrs Her­bert’s home in Thames was a reg­u­lar hol­i­day re­treat for Mr Tur­rall.

‘‘He loved Christ­mas so much be­cause he never had it grow­ing up, he was like a child on Christ­mas morn­ing it was beau­ti­ful. My chil­dren ab­so­lutely adored Un­cle Sam.’’

Mr Tur­rall, who was born John Roberts Tur­rall in 1945 and later changed his name to Sa­muel Henry Tur­rall in 1963 (af­ter his bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther) suf­fered a tu­mul­tuous up­bring­ing.

At 18 months old Mr Tur­rall was made a ward of the state fol­low­ing re­ports of hor­ren­dous abuse at the hands of his mother Jean Squire.

Through­out his child­hood and ado­les­cent years he was shipped off to dif­fer­ent fos­ter care and So­cial Wel­fare homes through­out the Waikato and Bay of Plenty.

Dur­ing those years Mr Tur­rall was sub­jected to shock treat­ments af­ter home care­givers thought he was suf­fer­ing from some sort of mental ill­ness. It was later found that Mr Tur­rall’s only dis­abil­ity was par­tial hear­ing loss.

Once he was old enough to leave, he did and was em­ployed by the Auck­land City Coun­cil on road­ing projects.

In 1963 Mr Tur­rall found his bi­o­log­i­cal fa­ther liv­ing in Pu­taruru. He made the move south to Toko­roa where he took em­ploy­ment at the Kin­leith Mill.

Made re­dun­dant from the mill in 1986, Mr Tur­rall started up the Sam the Can Man run, which he be­gan on his push­bike scour­ing the town for cans and on Satur­day morn­ings was a reg­u­lar sight at the Toko­roa Me­mo­rial Sports Ground.

For­mer Toko­roa Bor­ough Coun­cil em­ployee and Mr Tur­rall’s half brother, Graeme Nel­son re­calls fix­ing a bro­ken wa­ter­main at 3am one morn­ing and see­ing the ‘‘can man’’ at work.

‘‘I’d be out fix­ing a bro­ken wa­ter main and I’d see him out in the freez­ing cold on his bike with cans loaded up front and back, all you could see was Sam’s head peer­ing over the cans. That was in the 80s be­fore he got a car.’’

Mrs Her­bert laughs when she re­calls a gripe her un­cle had with an­other lo­cal.

‘‘Un­cle Sam be­gan his busi­ness a few years be­fore An­nie the can lady be­gan her bid. He told me once he had a gripe with her for steal­ing his cans.’’

Mr Tur­rall was a con­stant sight at the sports­grounds and took on du­ties for the South­ern United Rugby Foot­ball Club in­clud­ing open­ing and clos­ing the sports sheds be­fore and af­ter.

Mr Tur­rall also helped the South Waikato Sports and Leisure Board with ground con­trol mak­ing sure cones were out for vis­it­ing sports team’s ve­hi­cles.

For­mer South Waikato District councillor, South­ern United Rugby Foot­ball Club Chair­man and Toko­roa busi­ness owner David Foote, de­scribes Mr Tur­rall as a man who was very much a part of the suc­cess of rugby and net­ball in the town.

‘‘He was an amaz­ing guy who put up with a lot of abuse from peo­ple who would turn their nose up at him be­cause he did that type of work.

‘‘He did a ster­ling job at keep­ing our grounds clean. I can’t say enough about old Sam, he helped a lot of peo­ple and was a vi­tal cog to the clean­li­ness of our sports grounds and parks.’’

Mr Foote said due to his tire­less work for the rugby club he was made an un­of­fi­cial mem­ber.

‘‘When we would put on a feed for vis­it­ing teams we al­ways put a plate aside for Sam.

‘‘He would open up the sheds for the boys, and play se­cu­rity guard chas­ing rat­bags away that were hang­ing around. He was a valu­able as­set that will be missed.’’

Mr Tur­rall would also light the fire at St Francis Church ev­ery Sun­day morn­ing to keep the Sun­day school chil­dren warm.

St Francis Church mem­ber Mal­colm Mills re­mem­bers the morn­ing they found Mr Tur­rall.

‘‘We got to church that Sun­day and no­ticed the fire was not lit, we knew some­thing was wrong. We went to the sports­grounds and we saw his van and the kin­dling for the fire was still there.’’ Mr Mills said he found Mr Tur­rall in the toi­lets which he opened up ev­ery morn­ing.

A me­mo­rial ser­vice for Mr Tur­rall was held at St Francis Church where close to 1000 peo­ple at­tended.

South Waikato Sport and Leisure Board are plan­ning a me­mo­rial in Mr Tur­rall’s hon­our to be erected at the sports­grounds.

If you have an idea on what you think would be a great way to re­mem­ber ‘‘ Sam the Can Man’’ send your thoughts to swaikato.edi­

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