Medics memorial to get a revamp

KATHRYN KING
Last updated 12:09 21/08/2014
medics memorial
GRANT MATTHEW / FAIRFAX NZ

NEGLECTED: The Army Medical memorial at Awapuni Racecourse is set to have a makeover as part of a World War 1 Centennary project.

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A memorial to medics killed in World War I is set to undergo a facelift.

The memorial, in memory of the New Zealand Medical Corps, was installed at the Awapuni Racecourse in Palmerston North by the Manawatu Racing Club and unveiled in 1929. The site was where medics assembled for training ahead of deployment, and therefore, considered the ideal place to erect the memorial.

The memorial has lapsed into a state of neglect over the years, but that's about to change.

A subcommittee to breathe new life into the area has been established by Lieutenant Colonel Darren Beck, commanding officer of the health battalion at Linton Military Camp and regimental colonel for the Royal New Zealand Army Corps, in conjunction with representatives from the Palmerston North City Council and the racecourse.

A revamp at the site was "long overdue" and the WWI centenary was a great opportunity to get work under way, Beck said.

Initial plans for a small-scale refurbishment had changed after site visits with engineers and designers last week.

"We want to make it a feature and focal point and a gathering place," he said. "It's not just about the memorial, but the area around it."

Part of the revamp will be to contemporise the memorial, adding the names of medics who have lost their lives in more recent events, including that of Lance Corporal Jacinda Baker, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2012.

The hope was that the memorial would become a gathering place to remember all medical staff who had died in service.

Plans are in place for a site clearance on September 15, starting at 10am, to clean up vegetation and the water feature at the memorial.

All going to plan, the new memorial area would be unveiled at a re-dedication ceremony at the end of next year.

Anyone interested in contributing to the project, or becoming involved, can contact Lieutenant Colonel Darren Beck on 06 3519 500 or email, darren.beck@nzdf.mil.nz.

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- Manawatu Standard

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