Service to involve young squadron

Every Anzac Day, a dedicated group of Oamaru youth quietly go about their business.

You may have seen their blue uniforms at commemoration services in Oamaru and beyond.

They are members of Squadron 26 (Oamaru) Air Training Corps, who play an important role every time people gather to commemorate dates such as Anzac Day and Armistice Day.

Forty-four young people make up the squadron, led by unit commander Derek Beveridge.

Derek Beveridge
Derek Beveridge

He said the squadron was proud of what it did, which was reflected in their dedication and willingness to be involved in honouring the memory of the fallen.

''It's just putting youth to the fore if you like, in relation to Anzac commemorations and what have you. We probably do some of the things the military do in places where they have military.

''It's quite good for the young people to be seen and push themselves forward.

''They have a lot of pride in doing it for the people that have gone before them and the people still doing it.''

During services, squadron members guard the World War 1 and Boer War memorials in lower Thames St and the nearby Returned and Services Association Garden of Memories, raise and lower flags, carry flags in parades, carry wreaths to be laid, provide assistance for people at services, set up chairs and staging for dawn and morning services, and also take part in services at the Oamaru Services Cemetery.

They are also involved in services outside Oamaru, generally in Maheno and Enfield.

Mr Beveridge said the squadron was well-drilled, a result of hard work and experience.

''We have been doing it for years, so it's a continuing thing each year. To try and get them all to look a co-ordinated group with weapons at the cenotaph, there's a bit of practice that goes in there.

''There's marching for people not specifically involved ... it does involve various bits and pieces and it's a bit the same for Armistice Day.''

He said Anzac Day was particularly special for the squadron.

''I think it probably is for the cadets. It's become more and more popular for the public as the years have gone on and the cadets have been doing it since long before I came on. It's part of their programme for the year and they enjoy doing it.

''They do have that we bit of pride in saying 'yes, we're doing something special'.

''... As soon as you say Anzac Day is coming around and who wants to do it, they all want to do it and that says something.''

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