South Taranaki Star
Covid won’t thwart Lily’s air force dream comes true region’s Relay for Life
The Taranaki Cancer Society is determined to hold its annual Relay for Life fundraiser despite the Covid situation.
‘‘Cancer doesn’t stop and neither will we. One way or another, it will still go on, keeping in mind government guidelines and the safety of people on the day,’’ fundraising and events co-ordinator Lisa Grigg said.
The event, planned for March 26 at the TET Stadium in Inglewood, is one of the society’s two main fundraisers and the Taranaki target for this year is to have 60 teams and raise $150,000.
Grigg said they were planning how they would run the event under the red light setting.
‘‘A lot of businesses do a team, as it is a really good teambuilding activity.’’
The money is used for the society’s work in Taranaki through support services, health promotion programmes and cancer research.
It was cancelled in 2020 by the Covid lockdown but held in 2021.
However, the society’s other main fundraiser, Daffodil Day, was cancelled last year by the second lockdown, so it is important it can go ahead this time, Grigg said.
The relay typically opens with a flag-raising ceremony and the first lap of the stadium is walked by cancer survivors and their caregivers, led by a pipe band, and with a haka when they have completed their celebratory lap.
‘‘Then we start into it, with at least one person from each team on the track walking for the 12 hours throughout the day.’’
There is plenty of entertainment on offer, including an area with children’s entertainment, information stalls and bands playing through the day.
A garden of remembrance, with photos of people lost to cancer will be set up in a quiet corner. ‘‘It’s a quiet area where people can go and sit with their lost ones and remember them, it’s always very popular.’’
In the evening, there is a candlelit remembrance ceremony, and a lap of silence.
The closing ceremony is all about fighting back, she said.
‘‘I really think it is a healing thing for a lot of people,’’ Grigg said.
The Relay for Life committee is all volunteers, and many others join them for event.
‘‘On average with relay, on the day we will have 200 volunteers. We couldn’t do it without them.’’
For more information, visit relayforlife.org.nz.
Nobody was going to tell 12-yearold Lily Upton that she wouldn’t make the cut for a career in the military.
Now at 20, she has graduated from the Royal New Zealand Air Force officer commissioning course at the air force base at Woodbourne.
Growing up in Stratford, Taranaki, Pilot Officer Upton had some negative reactions when telling people of her future plans.
‘‘Being a pilot was my goal. There was a boy older than me who applied for the air force and wasn’t successful and, based on that, some people thought there would be no chance that I would be successful.
‘‘It bugged me, but didn’t put me off. I knew I wanted to do it – I had loads of support from Mum, who thought it would be a really good career.’’
Completing the 17-week course at Woodbourne was a real achievement, she said.
‘‘The course was really cool. There were some hard days – especially the first nine weeks, which was military induction training, but most days I had to pinch myself and think, ‘I can’t believe I’m here’.
‘‘I may not have made it as a pilot, but my hard work paid off, and I proved myself during the selection process and was instead offered a place as an air warfare
‘‘Cancer doesn’t stop and neither will we. One way or another, it will still go on’’ Lisa Grigg
officer, an opportunity I am proud to have been offered.’’
She is about to begin training with No 5 Squadron and will be one of the first to learn the air warfare role in the air force’s new P8A Poseidon aircraft, arriving at the base at Ohakea late next year. ‘‘It will be really exciting to be working on a brand new aircraft,’’ she said.
If she had an opportunity to speak with other aspiring aviator 12-year-olds, she would tell them the air force is an amazing opportunity and to go for it.
‘‘Follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not achievable, because it is.’’