Otago's old flyers gather for one last time

One of the planes which flew over the Cenotaph in Dunedin yesterday to mark the 74th anniversary...
One of the planes which flew over the Cenotaph in Dunedin yesterday to mark the 74th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the end of the Otago Brevet Club.
More than 100 people gathered at the Cenotaph. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
More than 100 people gathered at the Cenotaph. Photos by Peter McIntosh.

One of the planes which flew over the Cenotaph in Dunedin yesterday to mark the 74th anniversary...
One of the planes which flew over the Cenotaph in Dunedin yesterday to mark the 74th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and the end of the Otago Brevet Club.
As the Last Post rang across Queens Gardens, some of Otago's bravest stood to attention one last time.

The sky above the Cenotaph in Dunedin reverberated with the buzz and roar of aircraft to remember ''the Few''.

The Otago Brevet Club met for the last time yesterday, the farewell also marking the 74th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

The club, which was formed in 1952, had about 150 members at its peak but its numbers dwindled as the years passed and the remaining six members decided to wind it up.

More than 100 people gathered at the Cenotaph yesterday to salute the sacrifices of those who took part in the Battle of Britain, including members of the Brevet Club.

The last president of the club, Neville Selwood (90), said the occasion was ''pretty sad''.

''We have lost so many. I have taken funerals for quite a few of them in the past few years.''

The club had ''fulfilled'' its purpose and its members had ''offered comradeship to each other'', he said.

The club's remaining members - Mr Selwood, Fraser Mitchell, Frank Coory, Gordon Parry and Jack Robertson - were all in their 90s, he said.

The other member of the group is Peter Laing, who had been made an honorary member in recognition of his father, David Laing.

''They are all worse for wear now health-wise, myself included,'' Mr Selwood said, adding the attendance yesterday was ''very, very good''.

Although the club had had its last official meeting, its members would ''stay in touch all right''.

''As long as there's two of us around to talk on the phone we will keep in touch.''

The fly-past, which included 12 aircraft and a helicopter, was organised by Paul Ward, who served in Vietnam as an air force medic, and the Otago Aero Club.

• To mark the end of the Otago Brevet Club a display has been installed at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum. The display is open to the public until closing time tomorrow.

-timothy.brown@odt.co.nz

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