Saluting medical officer

Family and friends of Ronald MacDiarmid gather around the plaque and the Alem Stormcloud rhododendron planted in his honour. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Family and friends of Ronald MacDiarmid gather around the plaque and the Alem Stormcloud rhododendron planted in his honour. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
Family and friends of the late Ronald MacDiarmid gathered in the Lady Thorn Rhododendron Dell in Port Chalmers yesterday morning for a special planting ceremony to honour his memory.

Dr MacDiarmid served as the Port Chalmers doctor and port health officer for 34 years, from 1952 to 1986.

Daughter Anna Cahill, who flew from Australia for the ceremony, said her father had a close interest in the garden and enjoyed a strong friendship with Constance Lady Thorn, mayoress of Port Chalmers from 1956 to 1989 as wife to Sir John Thorn.

Mrs Cahill thought the ceremony was a fitting way to remember her father's life on the first anniversary of his death. Port of Otago infrastructure general manager Lincoln Coe spoke of Dr MacDiarmid's immense contribution to the port.

''As port health officer, he was in charge of screening any ships that made first landing at Port Chalmers, so he was crucial in protecting the local and regional community, all in addition to his role as a local GP, which is unique.''

Anna Cahill
Anna Cahill
Almost 50 people attended the ceremony, with many of his family flying from Australia.

Former deputy mayor Les Aitcheson said Dr MacDiarmid would be remembered as a very kind and understanding man, who loved boysenberry ice cream.

''He was always more interested in health than wealth. Money was never a priority.''

The Lions committee chose to plant an Alem Stormcloud rhododendron, thought to be suitable for a man so dedicated to the region.

- Liam MacAndrew. 

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