Anti-violence biker visit bittersweet
The widow of Corporal Douglas Grant watched, smiling, as the children at her family's former school enjoyed the spectacle of the White Ribbon riders.
Corporal Grant, who was killed in Afghanistan last year, was a member of the New Zealand armed forces motorcycle club, the Patriots, and rode with them in their campaign against violence toward women.
His fellow riders wore patches embossed with a red poppy and the words "In memory of Duggy", as they shared the Families Commission's White Ribbon project message at St James' Catholic School, where Corporal Grant's children once attended.
Now living in Auckland, his widow, Tina, and their children Jemma, 8 and Jaden, 6, were flown down by the Families Commission to be present at the occasion.
Mrs Grant said she and her late husband had "a lot" to do with the school before they moved to Auckland.
When the commission called her and asked if she wanted to be there, her response was "let's do it".
It was "an honour" that the riders had come to their old school to share their message, and remember Doug, whose motorbike she now rides.
"Doug used to ride [for White Ribbon] every year from the start," she said. "Because of his passion and enjoyment of riding with the Patriots, I chose to ride with them in the Auckland chapter."
Jemma and Jaden got back into life among their old friends and took part in the school's welcome for the riders.
Members of the Patriots are on a nine-day tour of the country encouraging men to take action against the unacceptable levels of violence toward women.
This year, the message included the effects of non-physical violence.
Following their visit to Palmerston North, the riders were off to Marton, and then head to Whanganui, where they would be staying the night.
Mrs Grant was to stay overnight in Palmerston North and will fly back to Auckland today.
The official White Ribbon day takes place on November 25.