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Representatives of the Deep South Chapter of the Patriots Defence Force Motorcycle club rode from Dunedin to the Waihoa Forks Hotel on Saturday 18th May to pass on $1000, which was half the funds raised on the 2019 Deep South Ride of Respect.
The other half of the money raised went to the Tapanui RSA and was presented to Tapanui RSA’s only surviving WW2 veteran, Bill Ralston, who was coincidentally celebrating his 98th birthday on the day of the Tapanui presentation.
The riders also presented Bill with a cake and sung him a rousing rendition of happy birthday before Joan Gibbon, a ride participant, took Bill for a spin around Tapanui on her Canam Spyder.
The Ride of Respect is held annually where up to 12 individual rides, country wide raise money for RSA’s and Veteran related issues.
Patriots Deep South President, Phil Herriott, said today’s donation from the Ride of Respect to the Forks hotel was made as a contribution to the funds being raised by the Forks Hotel to commission a statue of Ted D’Auvergne, a local man who went away to fight in World War Two.
On January 5, 1940, Ted was invited by the publican, George Provan, to have a farewell drink at the Waihao Forks Hotel and when the train whistled, Mr Provan put the bottle on the shelf, saying “we’ll have this one, Ted, when you come home again”.
Sadly 18 months later Ted was killed in action and buried in Crete, so the bottle remains at the hotel to this day, a tribute to a soldier who never returned home.
Phil said the statue of Ted will also commemorate all men and women who left rural communities and went to war.
The Mayor of the Waimate District Council, Craig Rowley accepted the donation on the hotels behalf and warmly thanked the Patriots and the Ride of Respect contributors for their generous donation.
The Mayor said $35,000 has been raised so far and it is hoped the statue will be unveiled on ANZAC Day 2020.