Silent reminders quietly removed from Gardens

Respectful removal . . . St Hilda's Collegiate pupils (from left) Rosie Dykes, Pippa Clarke and Kaylee Bond, all 14, were among about 40 girls who helped service personnel remove nearly 4000 crosses from Queens Gardens on Friday. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

Thousands of white crosses, which have stood in Queens Gardens as a silent reminder of the Otago-Southland men who died in World War 1, have been removed.

On Friday, a team of army personnel were joined by about 40 St Hilda’s Collegiate pupils in removing the crosses and stacking them in alphabetical order.

Among the girls, who were participating in a school volunteering day, were year 9 pupils Rosie Dykes, Pippa Clarke, and Kaylee Bond.

The girls were struck by the large number of crosses, almost 4000, and reflected on the sacrifice of the young men who went away to war.

The crosses removal project was one of many tackled on Friday by St Hilda’s junior pupils, from years 7 to 10, in association with Volunteering Otago.

Teacher Lindsay McLanachan said the girls spent the afternoon helping out at Age Concern, Otago Community Hospice, the Cancer Society, and working with Keep Dunedin Beautiful in the town belt.

“Being involved in tasks like this helps them to think beyond themselves,” she said.

Dunedin RSA president Lox Kellas said the crosses would be distributed to families who requested them, the Dunedin RSA Choir would take some to include in a future event, and a historical organisation would also take some.

The crosses would be held at the Kensington Army Hall until December 19, and could be uplifted before then by arrangement.