Met granddad, now grandson

GERMARI HERSELMAN
Last updated 07:28 10/04/2014
Mary Barnes
Derek Flynn

Special moment: Mary Barnes and Jack Wakefield lay a wreath on behalf of the RNZAF Association during the Battle of Britain / Air Force Day Commemoration Service at the War Memorial in Seymour Square in 2012.

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Blenheim air force veteran Mary Barnes expects good memories to flood back when she meets the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during the wreath-laying ceremony at Seymour Square today.

She felt honoured to be the only female veteran in the group of 20 selected for the ceremony.

On two previous occasions she had been presented to Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, and was elated to hear she would get to meet his grandson.

"I have always found the royals surprisingly easy to talk to. They never talk down to you and really do come across as just normal people," she said.

"I have always hoped to meet Prince Charles, because I've been told he has a passion for gardening, like I do."

Barnes grew up in a military family and served two tours at Laucala Bayin base in Fiji as part of a peacekeeping mission in that country.

"I worked in accounts and made sure everyone received their wages every second week," she said.

"I never saw any action, but have always been passionate about serving my country," she said.

She also looked forward to proudly wearing her father's Gallipoli badges on the right of her jacket.

"As long as it doesn't rain it will be a once-in-a-lifetime and very magical experience for everyone that attends," she said.

"Just being part of the atmosphere on the day is fantastic."

As president and welfare officer of the Marlborough branch of the RNZAF Association, Barnes is also organising a reunion for all who served at Laucala Bay base.

The reunion is from February 27 to March 1, 2015, in Blenheim. Marlborough people who served at the base and are interested in attending the reunion can contact her on 03 577 8066.

The day I met a royal

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- The Marlborough Express

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