Central Hawke's Bay will be missing a Santa this year, with the passing of a bearded gent whose face was often recognised by the district's children.
Colin Heyward died last month after a short illness, and his funeral in Waipawa's St Peter's Church was a testament to his service to the community as a Freemason, recently attaining the role of past senior grand warden; as Waipawa and District RSA vice-president and more recently president; and more recognisably for the younger community members — Santa.
While it was Colin's long service of 47 years as a Freemason that earned him his prestigious promotion last year, and his Royal New Zealand Navy career and 40 years on the Waipawa and District RSA committee that earned him his presidency, it was his impressive beard, largely unshaven since its inception in 1972, that earned him the title of Santa.
Colin had, over the years, been called upon to play Santa rather a lot and he was frequently recognised in CHB's streets and supermarkets by star-struck kids.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
Colin used to see them tug on their parents' hands and point him out, saying "there's Santa."
He would explain to the children that he was on holiday.
The famous beard flourished largely unscathed — apart from being briefly exiled for his wedding to wife Jan — until 2020, when a fellow of Ormondville's Lion Masonic Lodge No.114 challenged him to shave it off for charity. Rising to the challenge, Colin had his beard shorn very publicly and raised more than $7000 for Dementia Hawke's Bay.
Last October the grand master of New Zealand Freemasons, Graham Wrigley, travelled from Christchurch to promote Colin, the past grand lecturer of Woburn Lodge No.25 in Waipukurau for 20 years, to past senior grand warden.
Graham said at the time that he was delighted to promote Colin, who has "an exemplary career in Freemasonry and has been a driving force behind many initiatives."
Despite his illness Colin was determined to attend Anzac Day in Waipawa this year, which he did. He was also intent on reaching his 85th birthday, which he accomplished. Colin was farewelled on May 20, and donations have been made in his memory to charities, Dementia Hawke's Bay and Cranford Hospice.