Don’t look back in Anker, I heard you say


Shepparton News - - FRONT PAGE -

Lutheran pas­tor Matt Anker’s com­mu­nity said thank you yes­ter­day, as he de­parts for a new role after 12 years in Shep­par­ton. They had or­gan­ised for a trea­sured mo­tor­cy­cle of his to be re­stored.

A part­ing gift proved a mas­sive hit for a hugely pop­u­lar fig­ure at African House as he hits the high­way to­wards his next role.

As Lutheran pas­tor Matt Anker posed for pho­tos with friends and church mem­bers at African House yes­ter­day, a mo­tor­cy­cle rolled in.

It was not any old mo­tor­cy­cle. It was one he had owned for about a decade, that he had used to ride to Echuca and back, which had fallen into dis­re­pair.

Un­be­known to pas­tor Anker, some church mem­bers had en­sured it had been re­paired and re­stored.

Church mem­ber and African House vol­un­teer Bob Watts said pas­tor Anker had been shocked to see the bike back in work­ing order.

‘‘We wanted to send Matt on his way,’’ Mr Watts said.

‘‘He was so well-liked and loved, ev­ery­body came to cel­e­brate to­day what he has done for them.

‘‘As a re­sult, we have been able to make him feel spe­cial . . . we wanted to cel­e­brate.’’

Mr Watts said some peo­ple had writ­ten and per­formed an orig­i­nal song for pas­tor Anker dur­ing the day.

How­ever, the big un­veil was when Mr Watts and fel­low mem­ber Steve Lit­tle pre­sented Pas­tor Anker the bike.

‘‘It had fallen into dis­re­pair . . . it sat on his ve­ran­dah, and just col­lected dust,’’ Mr Watts said.

‘‘This was a very im­por­tant thing, we thought (we could) get it back to him as new.’’

About 40 hours of work be­tween Ray’s Au­to­mo­tive and Hal­sall Honda, who Mr Watts de­scribed as be­ing gen­er­ous, re­stored the Honda CPR 1000F bike.

Mr Watts ac­knowl­edged the ef­forts of the com­mu­nity to en­sure the restora­tion could be pos­si­ble.

‘‘He was so shocked,’’ he said.

‘‘I think Matt was go­ing off for a ride to­day.

‘‘He hasn’t had much leisure time in (the last) 12 years.

‘‘Hope­fully now, he can get back to some leisure time . . . he and his fam­ily I’m sure will get much en­joy­ment.’’

Pic­tures: Rod­ney Braith­waite

Spe­cial cel­e­bra­tion: African House farewells pop­u­lar pas­tor Matt Anker.

Thank­ing you: Matt Anker at Africa House hug­ging St Paul’s Lutheran Church chair­man Steve Lit­tle.

We’ll miss you: Matt Anker with Ana Niy­i­fasha.

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