Riders pay tribute to servicemen

Patches, leathers, bikes and some serious beards were a theme at Nelson's Anzac Park as motorbike clubs from the region rode together to remember allied forces who have served their nations.

On Saturday afternoon bikers rode to the park in remembrance of those who not only fought, but also served in other ways for the allied forces from New Zealand, Canada, Australia, France, United States, and the United Kingdom.

It was the first time such a remembrance had been held in New Zealand.

Brothers Colin and Doug Agnew as well as Ian Anderson organised the event after being contacted by an ex-serviceman from the United Kingdom who ran a similar day there and coincidentally on the same day from another biker from the US who was involved in an American version of the event.

International commemorations had been going for six years and they were looking to spread it to other allied nations.

"It was much better than we expected. It was brilliant the number of motorcycles that turned out. We had no idea until we turned into the Suburban Club at Tahunanui what there was and there was 60-odd bikes," they said.

It was an example of the camaraderie between bikers, they said.

"Not only here but worldwide it's what we like to call a brotherhood and is similar to what you have in the army with the men you're serving with and that's why all these others clubs have come to support us today on this day," said Colin Agnew.

They hope next year's service attracts more of the general public and Nelson Mayor Rachel Reese, who spoke at the event, said she hopes to arrive on the back of one of the bikes.

Reese said it was "an absolute delight to be here and share in this day.

"It's a special moment and a powerful moment," she said. "The community of Nelson is indebted to those men and women who went off and served for this country."

MC Richard Bradley led the service and said it was a day of remembering those lost over a number of wars but also celebrating those who returned - some of who came back to no welcome following the Vietnam War.

Labour list MP Maryan Street rode in on style on the back of Colin Agnew's impressive bike.

"It's a great pleasure and privilege to be here," she said.

"I want to pay tribute to all those who fought and returned and have since died and those who returned and are still with us and those who never returned because each of you are in our hearts and each of you are remembered and that's what this is for."

Grace Mcewing, 7, from Hampden Street School laid a wreath at the Anzac Park memorial. She said it was "fun and scary", but it was important to remember those who served for other people including her great grandfather who fought in World War II.

Nelson vicar Jeff Cotton led the service in prayer and scripture. It was followed by a get-together at the Nelson Garrison Club.

The Nelson Mail