Family’s service links to mind during posy-making

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Joining volunteers at HMNZS Toroa in making about 4000 rosemary posies for Anzac Day were (from...
Joining volunteers at HMNZS Toroa in making about 4000 rosemary posies for Anzac Day were (from left) Doug and Joy Baker, and daughter Lisa Davis. The trio were making posies in remembrance of Mrs Baker’s mother Barbara Pickering, a former WAAC and keen posy-maker, who died on April 5. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD
Taking part in Friday’s posy-making session at HMNZS Toroa on Friday was a time of special reflection and remembrance for a Dunedin family.

As they worked, Joy and Doug Baker, and their daughter Lisa Davis, shared memories of Mrs Baker’s mother Barbara Pickering (96), who died on April 5.

Mrs Pickering, who served in the New Zealand Women's Auxiliary Army Corps during World War2, was herself a keen posy-maker and attendee at Anzac Day commemorations.

"It was very important to her to uphold the Anzac Day tradition — she loved to make posies and we would always take her to the services at Andersons Bay Cemetery and Montecillo," Mrs Baker said.

Mrs Pickering had come to live with her daughter and son-in-law in Dunedin in the past three years and liked the camaraderie of Anzac Day.

Ms Davis, who lives in Timaru, took the day off work to join her parents making posies and remember her grandmother.

"We have some very special memories of her. She was a great lady."

Mrs Pickering had a close relationship with her great-grandchildren, Mrs Davis’s daughter and son, Jasmine and Regan.

"She loved that Jasmine was involved in the cadets in Timaru. That meant a lot to her," Ms Davis said.

During her World War2 service with the WAAC, Barbara Pickering worked with the artillery as a searchlight operator and range-finder in Wellington Harbour's directing station.

Two years ago, Mrs Pickering told the Otago Daily Times how her sharp eyes helped keep an unsuspecting crew from being blown out of Wellington Harbour.

Her job was to train lights on boats coming into the harbour, turn them on so the boat could be identified as friendly, then turn them off again.

Any foes were to be attacked by artillery.

On one "very dicey" occasion, a commanding officer was alarmed by the appearance of an unusual-looking ship in the harbour, and was ordering guns to be manned, when the sharp-eyed 18-year-old identified it as the New Plymouth dredge.

"He would have blown it out of the water if I hadn't said anything.''

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