Calling time on Anzac Day

SHARE
In tune .. Ray Cox will, once again, sound during Anzac Day commemorations at Mountain View Village. PHOTO: ALEXIA JOHNSTON

by Alexia Johnston

Ray Cox will perform Last Post for the people of Timaru’s Mountain View Village on Anzac Day.
Performing the call, along with Reveille, has become a tradition for Mr Cox, who plays them on the cornet as part of the annual commemorations.
His background playing the instrument, along with the trumpet, spans decades, which makes him more than qualified for the role.
“I’ve retired that many times,” he joked.
“I’ve been playing for about 77 years . . . and I’ve had enough playing – well, I think I have, but it’s ingrained in us,” he said, of those who were dedicated musicians.
Mr Cox introduced the musical aspect to Mountain View Village’s Anzac Day commemorations about five years ago.
“What used to happen, people would go to the community centre for morning tea and they would sit around chatting among themselves.
“I suggested that we do a five-minute service and play the Last Post.”
The village’s Anzac Day service now features the Ode to the Fallen, along with Mr Cox’s performances.
Mr Cox, formerly of Yorkshire, started playing the cornet when he was 8 years old.
He played in the Royston Salvation Army Band and later graduated to The Town Band.
“I had quite a good experience playing in brass bands,” he said.
“Then I got a position out here in New Zealand in 1951 when the Hawera band advertised for a cornet player. I got the job and I’ve been here ever since.”
He later moved to Dunedin where he played with the St Kilda band before moving to Timaru to conduct the Timaru Municipal Brass Band.

Back in the day . Ray Cox (circled) celebrates with The National Band of New Zealand in 1962, following its Royal Concert performance in Dunedin. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

“Music is just ingrained in me.”
And it ran in his family, he said.
“My dad was a bass player and my brother played with the famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band.”
Now, at 87, Mr Cox said it was time to take a step back from his Anzac Day commitments.
“It’s my last one,” he said, but was looking forward to this month’s commemorations.