Community champion farewelled

Published date02 February 2023
Publication titleSouthland Express
She was a straight, no-fuss shooter and those who met and loved her, knew it

Former Southland District mayor and long-time friend Gary Tong said Ann was awesome and you never had to wonder where you stood with her.

‘‘She would be the shortest, toughest person I know.’’

While her external stature never quite made 5 feet, she was larger than life on the inside.

She was known to say, ‘‘if you think small is insignificant, try sleeping in a tent with a mosquito’’.

Family was everything to Ann. They were her strong foundation and the support of husband Peter was an important key.

Born on April 2, 1959, Ann was the second daughter of Vera and Bill Walker.

The family lived on Stuart St until they shifted into a home at Lochiel, where The Hideaway now stands.

But life at Lochiel was cut very short after the home was razed by fire six months after moving in.

The family, now with three children, eventually settled on a farm at Tussock Creek where Ann practiced playing her pipes on the front lawn with the dog howling at her feet.

As a young child she began her another lifetime love — flowers.

Guests to the home would be gifted fresh rose bouquets from her mother’s garden as they headed out the door.

On her first day at James Hargest High School, 6th formers told her ‘‘kindergarten’s that way’’.

The derogatory comments motivated her to stand up for vulnerable people.

Her love for botany drew her into tertiary horticultural studies after securing an apprenticeship at Blake’s nursery.

Later on she became a travelling sales rep for Dalgetys where she met Peter during a stop at the Robbie farm. The pair were engaged within three months and married at the Winton Presbyterian Church on April 10, 1982.

Married life started in Drummond. But the couple with their three sons, Stewart, Douglas and Logan, eventually moved to their own property at Ryal Bush.

Her career pathway led her into seasons with health and safety training, Sport Southland and Ideal Services before she returned to her first love — horticulture, at Diacks Nursery.

Her sister Pamela said it wasn’t about the years in Ann’s life, but the life in her years.

‘‘No’’ and ‘‘Never’’ were unacceptable words.

As a 14-year-old, she was determined to learn to play the bagpipes, but was told by a bandperson she could never be a piper because ‘‘you’re a woman and too small’’.

She tenaciously stood her ground to pursue what became a lifetime of musical passion and community service.

Nearly 50 years later, her solo...

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