Editorial: A legacy of real note

PETER O'NEILL
Last updated 05:00 30/12/2013

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A service celebrating the life of Nan Raymond will be held today. As is usual at funerals, nice things will be said.

Yet while many people leave the world a better place for their having been in it, not so many can point to physical things left behind by which their name is synonymous.

Nan Raymond can.

Put simply, Timaru would look a different place today if not for her.

The trees along the main highway at Washdyke define the feel of one of our two main entranceways.

In what could so easily look like any industrial hub of any town, the simple addition of two rows of trees hides what could be ugly and instead makes the outlook attractive.

Planting those trees might seem like a simple thing now, but not everyone was convinced at the time and it took tenacity to pull it off. Mrs Raymond had that tenacity and the vision.

Likewise on Timaru's main street. Her influence is evident with hanging baskets and planter boxes that might otherwise have not been there.

She was instrumental in the building of The Little Theatre in Church St and had a part to play in saving the Landing Service Building, but her lasting legacy will be the Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden.

Had it not been for Nan Raymond, a world-renowned collection of roses could have been cast to the four winds.

Instead, she transformed it into a public space that early this month was endorsed as a garden of excellence, one of only three with such status in the country.

In the article marking that endorsement, we wrote that the garden had 1200 different varieties of rose.

That sounded like a mistake, so I checked. It wasn't.

Mrs Raymond may not have imagined exactly how the garden would play out long-term when she woke with an idea at 3am one morning 15 years ago, but if she hadn't had the thought and then applied her determination to the project that area could still be an expanse of grass.

Instead it gives the piazza a focal point and is a centrepiece of a revitalised Caroline Bay, an area itself described as the district's jewel in the crown.

Nan Raymond was never a district councillor nor mayor but her husband, Wynne, was and no doubt that would have been handy at times, but no-one can deny she was her own woman.

Certainly, there were like-minded people around her who also deserve credit, but she was a driving force who could get things done.

Few people when reflecting on their lives could take you around a town and proudly say: "I did that."

Rest in peace Nan Raymond.

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- The Timaru Herald

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