Around 150 residents gathered at Edmund Hillary Retirement Village this morning to form a sombre procession around the village grounds to honour the late Queen.
As they rounded the last of the town houses, the mournful sound of a lone bagpiper on the hill could be heard, providing a fitting musical accompaniment to the occasion.
Village Manager Dean Jackson and Resident Services Manager Janine Aitken led the group under an overcast sky, a backdrop which certainly fit the mood.
Then there were those who had served in the military, such as retired Naval Commander Ron Longley, former Air Vice Marshal Tom Thomson and James Scott, who served in both the Navy and the Army, all of them decorated with their medals.
Ron recalled the time he met the Queen at a garden party at Buckingham Palace in 1983.
When he was selected to talk to the Queen she asked him what he was doing in the UK.
“I said ‘I am here to oversee the commercial refit of HMNZS Southland, one of your ships, Ma’am.
Village Manager Dean Jackson leads the procession of residents around the village grounds.
Retired naval commander Ron Longley put his uniform and medals on for the occasion, accompanied by his wife Anne-Marie.
He later found out that when she visited Southampton two months later and met some of the men working on the ship she told them she had already ‘met their boss’!
The village’s Queen’s Service Medal recipients were there too – Val Murray, Diane Wilson, Joan Swift and Noeline Farley, and there was even a Queen’s Counsel – or rather King’s Counsel – Howard Keyte.
Resident Margaret Galvin’s daughter Bridget joined her mother on the procession. As Engagement and Communications Manager for the Prince’s Trust, it was a tribute that resonated with her too.
Kat Legg, known as the 'Lady Bagpiper' said she was 'honoured' to play for the residents on such a momentous occasion.
The bagpiper – Kat Legg – led the procession back to the village centre where residents sang God Save the King with fellow resident Glenys Griffiths accompanying on keyboard.
Gillian Bowie thanked Kat for her bagpiping, saying: “What a privilege it is to have you here. It has made us feel part of it, that our hearts are there.”
The village team had laid on a beautiful morning tea, following which residents sang a rousing version of the national anthem culminating in three cheers for the King.
From left to right, former Air Vice Marshal Tom Thomson, James Scott, Surgeon Lieutenant-Commander (D) in the Navy and then a Major in the Army, bagpiper Kat Legg and retired RNZN Commander Ron Longley.