Local Hero: RSA volunteer Alan Bines

By Whare Akuhata

Next time you pin your red poppy to your clothing for Anzac Day, spare a thought for Rotorua couple Alan and Joyce Bines.

They have the laborious task of putting up to 30,000 pins into the RSA poppies - a job that takes them a month to complete.

For this, as well as his other volunteer work, Mr Bines is today named The Daily Post Local Hero.

Poppy Day is the most important fundraising appeal of the year for the RSA and Mr Bines, who served in the navy and army.

As well as working to prepare the poppies, Mr Bines spends time as a volunteer at the Rotorua RSA where he has been a member since he and his wife moved to the city in 1973. In that time he set up the library and the museum where he has been the curator since 1990.

The Rotorua RSA is the country's only Returned and Services Association that has a registered military museum and Mr Bines said looking after it was a full-time job. "I do all the repairs, cleaning and change the exhibits around every six months."

He also conducted group tours around the museum and one of the highlights for him was showing young people the displays. He said in recent years there had been an increase in interest by younger people in the war-time exploits of their forebears. Mr Bines said this was more noticeable on Anzac Day. "They are very keen and take a big interest in the museum."

It has more than 3000 pieces of memorabilia, mostly donated by ex-servicemen and their families. It is open to school groups and other visitors and the display covers most wars and services.

Mr Bines has also found a job framing ex-servicemen's medals for their families. He does restoration work on the medals and has them framed with a photograph of the ex-serviceman and other graphics.

"I do the whole lot and all the families have to do is pay for the materials."

Mr Bines said he did this in an attempt to stop the medals being thrown away or being separated.

As well as his involvement with the RSA, Mr Bines is a life member of the Rotorua branch of the Ex-Royal Navalman's Association and has been involved with community policing.

In 2006 Mr Bines was awarded a Queen's Service Medal for his many years of service to the Rotorua Returned and Services Association.

Tell us if you know of a volunteer who deserves recognition. Contact Whare Akuhata on (07) 348 6199 ext 57054, whare.akuhata@dailypost.co.nz.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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