Christmas and the spirit of giving

By David Thomson on Sat, 16 Dec 2017

With Christmas less than 10 days away, this is it for Drivesouth in 2017.

Usually I sign off for the year with an editorial exhortation to drive carefully over the upcoming holiday period. This year I want to focus on part of Christmas - the spirit of giving - that has a particular motoring relevance for me just now.

That relevance is last weekend's passing of well-known Dunedin accountant and community contributor Barry Clarke.

It has been my privilege over the past few years to serve as a trustee of the Otago Motor Club Trust with Barry as one of my fellow trustees. For almost all of that period, he served as secretary of the trust, which disburses a reasonable sum of money each year to support road safety and motoring heritage initiatives and events in the Otago region.

As secretary (and a founding trustee), Barry was incredibly generous with his time and expertise, doing much of the leg work on the wide range of road safety initiatives the trust has supported over its 25 years in existence.

These initiatives have included funding such things as the hi-visibility vests worn by many of Otago's primary school children as they walk or bike to and from school, subsidised defensive driving courses for hundreds of newly-qualified school-aged drivers throughout Otago, driver training for refugee families resettling in Dunedin, and contributions to school road safety patrols, the cycle underpass under SH8 at Clyde, and road safety and rescue equipment used by St John's ambulance and various local fire brigades.

Barry was equally involved in giving his time to support the many heritage events the trust has funded over the years, including the restoration and preservation of vehicles with a particular Otago connection, and funding support for events and exhibitions with a motoring heritage connection.

Barry also gave of his time within Otago and nationally as an Automobile Association council and board member, this service amid a myriad of other community service activities.

On a personal note, I will miss Barry's company as a trustee: his generosity of spirit and love of Jaguar motor cars were unquestionable, his wicked sense of humour sometimes quite questionable and his contribution to motoring in this part of the world nothing short of exceptional.

Barry's fellow trustees raised a glass (or maybe two) in his honour at our annual dinner earlier this week, and a much larger group - representing the wider community in which he was involved - farewelled him at Knox Church.

A full obituary will follow in the Otago Daily Times, but I couldn't sign off for 2017 without recognising his motoring contributions and passing here.

With best wishes for the festive period, and season's greetings on behalf of the Drivesouth team. David Thomson Editor Drivesouth