News: ANZAC Memorial Ceremony 2023

On Sunday 23 April 2023, the Anzac Memorial Ceremony was held at the Stonefall Cemetery in Harrogate.

Stonefall includes a War Graves Cemetery maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, which is one of the largest CWGC sites in the North of England. Buried at Stonefall are 97 Royal Australian Air Force crew and 23 Royal New Zealand Air Force crew – four of whom came from Wellington, Harrogate’s sister city. After the second world war, visitors came to Harrogate to visit their war dead, and one couple moved permanently from New Zealand to Harrogate to be near their son. Also buried at Stonefall are over 660 Canadian aircrew, one of whom came from Barrie, Ontario, which is also twinned with Harrogate. The links which grew then remain important today.

ANZAC day 2023 was Tuesday 25 April, when ceremonies were held at dawn across Australia and New Zealand. Harrogate International Partnerships had obtained permission to hold the ceremony on the nearest Sunday.


The ceremony started with the Parade of Harrogate Air Cadets bearing the flags of Australia and New Zealand. This was followed by the Dedication given by Richard Barrett and The Airmen’s Hymn led by the Harrogate Band. Introductions were given by Richard Barrett on behalf of Harrogate International Partnerships.

Addresses were made by Lt. Colonel Colin Morrison of the Royal Australian Defence Force, and by Flt. Lieutenant Dan Channon (in both English and Māori) of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. These were interspersed with two songs led by Harrogate Grammar School student Amelia McQuire – firstly Waltzing Matilda, and then Pōkarekare Ana as a poignant solo voice, with verses in both English and Māori.

Gareth Gibbs led the Remembrance, during which the Last Post was sounded and a two minute silence followed.

Wreaths were then laid by civic, civilian and military representatives. These included:

Christopher Legard, Vice Lord-Lieutenant of North Yorkshire

Michael Harrison, Charter Mayor of Harrogate,

Andrew Jones, Member of Parliament for Harrogate and Knaresborough

Alex Nuttall, Mayor of Barrie, Ontario

Lt Col Colin Morrison of the Royal Australian Defence Force

Flt Lt Dan Channon of the Royal New Zealand Air Force

Kate Spencer on behalf of The New Zealand High Commission

Colonel Benjamin Oakes of the United States Space Force

Squadron Leader Geoff Dixon of the Royal Air Force

Michael Comerford of the Royal British Legion

Phillip Crebbin of the Royal Air Forces Association

Sergeant Dan Price of the Harrogate Police Force

Dennis Richards OBE of Harrogate International Partnerships

In addition, a wreath was laid to honour Alfred Churchill Lockyer from Wellington, New Zealand. It was laid by Darren England of the Royal British Legion and Jean Everson (see note below).

The reading was given by Harrogate Grammar School student Sam Featherstone.

HIP representative Kate Spencer gave her address, which included a message from the Mayor Tory Whanau of Wellington, New Zealand.

The ceremony concluded with the National Anthems, with the New Zealand National Anthem being sung in both Māori and English.


Note: The wreath to honour Alfred Churchill Lockyer was laid by Darren England and Jean Everson who have worked to establish a memorial at Rimswell near Withernsea, close to the site of the air crash which took the lives of Pilot Officer Lockyer and others in his crew on 17 March 1945. It was that crew’s first flight since joining the squadron, and their plane is believed to have been the last Lancaster shot down by the enemy over the UK during the Second World War. Lockyer was 23 years old.



Harrogate is twinned with Wellington, New Zealand. We remember four young aviators from Wellington, members of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, assigned for their missions in World War II with RAF Bomber Command and serving in and around Yorkshire, who did not return home and now lie at rest in Harrogate.

They are Charles Agnew, Alfred Churchill Lockyer, Terence McKinley and John Matthew Stack.

We also remember another aviator from a twin town of Harrogate – William Howard Porritt from Barrie, Ontario, Canada – who also lies in Stonefall. A private wreath was laid on his grave by Alex Nuttall Mayor of Barrie.


The ceremony was arranged by New Zealand and British citizen Kate Spencer of Harrogate International Partnerships. HIP would like to thank all the participants and those who contributed towards the ceremony, including the following:

Richard Barrett

Elizabeth Smith

Gareth Gibbs

The Harrogate Band

Amelia McQuire, Harrogate Grammar School

North Yorkshire RAF and Sea Cadets

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission



A New Zealand Garden within Valley Gardens, a public park in the centre of Harrogate, also remembers the servicemen buried at Stonefall. It was first opened in 1953 with plants brought from New Zealand, and was refurbished in 2010 and again in 2023 with the addition of a Pikorua sculpture, a bench funded by Wellington City Council, and a specimen shrub presented by the RNZAF. The refurbished garden was formally reopened on 22 April 2023.

Feature: The story of a sculpture

Jennifer Tetlow is a sculptor based in Lastingham in North Yorkshire, and in October 2022 she was commissioned to carve the stone Pikorua sculpture for the refurbished New Zealand garden in Valley Gardens, Harrogate. The Pikorua is a Māori symbol that represents the journey of life, friendship, eternity and loyalty, as well as the connection of people and the joining of different cultures.

Jennifer has produced a wonderful and fascinating blog diary with pictures of the progress of this sculpture from stone block to finished piece, which also shows it being installed and unveiled. Her website also has a really interesting video showing how she approaches a project and carves and finishes the stone.

Here’s a taster, but please follow the links at the bottom of this page to Jennifer’s delightful diary to appreciate the full story.

It is well worth a look!

Links to Jennifer’s blog diary and other pages are:

News: Visit from the Mayor of Barrie, Ontario

On 21 April we were delighted to welcome Mayor Alex Nuttall from Barrie for a few days, together with his partner Margaret (Meg) Stanton. He is Barrie’s 47th Mayor, having been elected in October 2022 for a four year term.

For his first visit to Harrogate, Alex had expressed a particular interest in meeting people and building links with the Harrogate business community, as well as seeing the town and what it has to offer.

Following a tough trip from London (with cancelled trains and standing room only!) there was only time on the first day for introductory meetings and a meal with the Harrogate International Partnerships team who had organised his packed schedule.

Day 2, Saturday 22 April, commenced with a breakfast meeting in town with Martin Mann from the Harrogate Chamber of Commerce, learning about business sectors in each town and finding common areas of focus. This was followed by a walk down to Valley Gardens to attend and enjoy the ceremony for opening the refurbished New Zealand Garden, which gave the opportunity to meet a number of local dignatories. These included the Harrogate Charter Mayor Michael Harrison, the Deputy Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Mr Simon Mackaness, and local MP Andrew Jones, as well as other councillors and former mayors who were attending.

After the ceremony, Alex and Meg were driven over to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show taking place at the Yorkshire Events Centre at the Harrogate Showground. Walking in, the first thing they could see was the HIP Twinning Community Garden, with the obelisk showing the four twin towns and planting to reflect each one – and from the direction they were brought in, the panel for Barrie was facing their way! So impressive, and a real WOW factor – a huge credit to the design and horticultural team who were also there to meet him, namely Jan Gleaves for the graphics, and Sue Wood for the planting.

After a quick sandwich lunch, there was then time to have a look round the show, and meet the Flower Show Director Nick Smith and some of the trustees.

Back into Harrogate, there was an early evening meeting with representatives from Harrogate RUFC, Ralph Zoing and Matt Dunscombe, discussing the forthcoming rugby under 16’s exchange trip coming up in July. That was followed by a business dinner at the Yorkshire Hotel with Matthew Chapman and Jo Caswell from Harrogate Business Improvement District (Harrogate BID). Afterwards Alex and Meg said, as did Matthew and Jo, that it had been really interesting to compare notes on local challenges and the respective approaches of Harrogate and Barrie – and particularly to exchange ideas for initiatives.

Day 3 was Sunday 23 April. This started with a special experience – being shown round Ripley Castle by Sir Thomas Ingilby. This enabled Alex and Meg to see first hand the historic family connection with Sir Robert Barrie who gave his name to their city. He married into the Ingilby family in 1816, and is buried in the family vault in Ripley’s All Saints’ Church. The 7th June is now officially “Sir Robert Barrie Day” in Barrie.

After that they were driven to Harrogate’s Stonefall Cemetery to attend the ANZAC commemoration ceremony. Although the event itself is to remember those from the Australia and New Zealand, Stonefall also is the location where over 660 Canadian aircrew are laid to rest, so it was entirely appropriate that Mayor Nuttall should join in the ceremony to lay a wreath to remember them. He and Meg also visited the grave of Flying Officer William H Porritt from Barrie to lay a private wreath – he was stationed in Yorkshire and died in an aircrash at East Moor near York on 16 April 1945 and is buried alongside others from his crew. Following the ceremony there was a reception afterwards at the Cedar Court Hotel where Alex gave a short speech, before his cake-cutting skills were put to the test.

Sunday finished on a relaxed note with a small home-hosted meal to round off the visit.



Following a speedy reciprocal invitation, plans are afoot for Harrogate to be represented in Barrie to celebrate 10 years of twinning. Hopefully this will include Sir Robert Barrie Day (7 June 2023) and the Barrie Air Show the following weekend, as well as the opportunity to follow up with civic and business contacts.

News: New Zealand Garden Refurbishment – Reopened

On 22 April 2023 the newly refurbished New Zealand Garden within Valley Gardens in Harrogate was formally re-opened.

A New Zealand Garden was first created on this site in 1953, to honour the 23 New Zealand aircrew buried at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Stonefall in Harrogate. Plants were gifted and grown in Wellington, New Zealand and shipped over to England. In 2010, the New Zealand garden was refurbished by the Friends of Valley Gardens, again with plants donated from New Zealand, and the splendid Māori Pou Whenua carving was brought from New Zealand and blessed in a Māori service with a local choir. Over the years, time started to take its toll on planting and some wooden sculptures, and so for 2023, the New Zealand garden has again been refurbished.

This latest refurbishment has included a newly commissioned stone Māori Pikorua sculpture supported by generous private donors with further support from North Yorkshire County Council, plus a locally crafted bench donated by Wellington City Council. As well as new planting, and a specimen bush donated by the Royal New Zealand Air Force, a number of the original bushes and trees have been retained.

An updated information board was also added, with kind donations from the family of Tony Sissons who designed the 2010 garden, and other work on defining the pathways has improved accessability.

The garden was formally re-opened on 22 April 2023 in the presence of a representative from the RNZAF, local dignitaries, the generous supporters, and a number of the people who had worked so hard on the refurbishment including the sculptor, horticulturist, and the installation team, with music from the local Tewit Youth Band and a solo singer from a local school leading the national anthems.

The ceremony was hosted by the Chair of Harrogate International Partnerships Dennis Richards. Speakers included:

  • Flight Lieutenant Dan Channon of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, who explained the gifts of the bench and the specimen bush, outlining the significance of the relationship between Harrogate and Wellington;
  • Elizabeth Smith of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, who gave a short history of the original 1953 garden;
  • Fran Sissons, who talked about the 2010 refurbishment and the involvement of her father-in-law Tony Sissons;
  • Nigel Clay from HIP, who outlined the significance of the new Pikorua sculpture; and
  • Sue Wood, who highlighted key items from the planting and original bushes and trees which are still in place.

The new information board was unveiled by Bobbie Sissons – widow of Tony Sissons, the Pikorua sculpture was unveiled by Virginia Partridge, and finally the new bench was unveiled by Flight Lieutenant Dan Channon.

Thanks go in particular to Jennifer Tetlow the sculptor, Richard Taylor of Joblings in West Tanfield who crafted the bench, and Sue Wood who had led the horticultural input, as well as Nigel Clay from HIP whose vision and drive led the project. Plus the Harrogate Borough Council gardening and construction teams for the installation, and the Friends of Valley Gardens for tending the garden and its plants.

Thanks must also go to those who provided funding and support. These included the late Alan Rollinson and his daughter Virginia Partridge, Roberta (Bobbie) Sissons and Sisley Garden Tours, Wellington City Council, Harrogate Borough Council, North Yorkshire County Council (in particular Councillors Peter Lacey and Sam Gibbs), and other individual donors, as well as Harrogate International Partnerships.

The Pikorua is a well known Māori symbol that represents the journey of life, friendship, eternity and loyalty, as well as the connection of people and the joining of different cultures. 

News: Twinning Community Garden wins gold at the Harrogate Spring Flower Show

Visitors to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show were able to see a specially designed Community Garden organised by HIP, which celebrates the town’s twinning links and anniversaries. A very colourful and eye-catching exhibit, it was based around a four-sided obelisk, with each side giving details of one of the four twin towns, along with themed planting appropriate for the country concerned.

The judges were also impressed, as it received a gold award! And Mayor Alex Nuttall of Barrie Ontario was able to visit and admire it for himself.

It was manned all through the three days of the show, giving visitors a chance to learn about the town’s links and their history, or just to admire the varied planting and take away a few ideas.

Thanks go to all the sponsors and supporters, including the Flower Show itself, Harrogate BID, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Jan Gleaves for the obelisk design, and Sue Wood (plus Simon and the other helpers) for the amazing garden design, construction and planting. And also to the numerous local suppliers who helped, and the team of volunteers who manned the exhibit through sun and (a little) rain.

A truly impressive display!

Mayor Alex Nuttall from Barrie in front of the obelisk celebrating 10 years of twinning with his town. Along with Sue Wood and Jan Gleaves.