Centenary chance for reconnection

Piece of history . . . The centennial of the pavilion in the middle of the Geraldine Domain exceeded organisers’ expectations. PHOTO: SHELLEY INON

After 100 years, the families of seven Geraldine soldiers have been reconnected with their history.

The pavilion in the Geraldine Domain, which is now the home of Geraldine Croquet Club, celebrated its centennial last month.

It was built in honour of eight hockey players who died in World War 1.

Club member Karyn Close said the pavilion’s centennial had exceeded their expectations, with special guests including Timaru’s mayor and the RSA president.

Ms Close felt it truly honoured and paid homage to the eight soldiers who had died, as well as honouring those in the community who built the pavilion to remember them by.

She said having the families represented was extraordinary after 100 years.

Many of those family members had no idea their relative had been honoured in such a way.

Paying tribute . . . Descendants of seven fallen soldiers gather together at the pavilion’s centennial in honour of their ancestors.

‘‘Now future generations will know their story, and how it connects with Geraldine, and hopefully will make the pilgrimage to visit the pavilion.’’

A lot of work had gone in to tracing relatives, which had been helped along tremendously by her Irish-based cousin Eileen, who had found some family trees.

Ms Close said there were a lot of false paths along the way, and one of the remaining descendants had been found by sheer luck, when one of the organisers, Shirley Lindroos, had a chat with the person who was buying her house.

‘‘Shirley was showing her the book we had written and she said ‘oh, that’s my great-uncle’.

‘‘Bringing everyone together was so rewarding and emotional for me. ‘‘All of those relatives now share a common bond,’’ she said.

‘‘My aim was to raise awareness of this extraordinary war memorial that is an asset to our community, share the soldiers’ stories and ensure the pavilion’s preservation for future generations.’’

She said the feedback from the relatives and other attendees had been wonderful, with some of the relatives remarking on the day that they were having ‘‘a family reunion’’, as not only had they not known about the existence of the pavilion but they had also not known about the other family members from their branch present on the day.