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Road safety stalwart retires

After 33 years of service, Chris Horrocks has retired from the WRSC board. PHOTO/MARY ARGUE

Mary Argue
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The year came to a bittersweet end for Wairarapa Road Safety Council [WRSC] as they farewelled board member and road safety stalwart Chris Horrocks.

In a final meeting last Thursday, the board acknowledged Horrocks’ 33-year service and thanked him for his dedication to keeping New Zealanders safe on the road.

A founding member of WRSC in 1988, Horrocks had represented the Automobile Association [AA] Wairarapa during that time.

Masterton councillor and board chairman Frazer Mailman said Horrocks’ commitment was “rare these days” and thanked him, in particular, for advocating for young driver safety.

Over three decades, Horrocks attended about 200 board meetings. Mailman said he could not recall Horrocks having missed one.

“You don’t hold back on suggestions about how things could be improved, and we thank you for that,” Mailman said.

Horrocks batted away the compliments in typical humour (“you’re embarrassing me!”), but dutifully received his parting gift, a facemask printed with his trademark maxim: “drive to the conditions”.

A “born and bred Aucklander” with a legal background, Horrocks said he grew up “doing what young people do” before spending three years in Vancouver.

After his return, Horrocks said agricultural and motor industry jobs had him travelling all around Aotearoa.

“I travelled from the Cape to Bluff, and in all that driving, I’ve always thought, ‘you must drive to the conditions.’”

Horrocks said he had had a passion for people since his youth, and road safety fitted into that.

He said his father, who was in the army during World War II, sent the family to Rotorua.

“He thought the Japanese were going to bomb Auckland.

“But because I was mischievous at primary school, I was then sent away to prep school and boarding school.

“And I just got to love people. People have been my life.”

He said his retirement would likely “hit later”, but he was gratified that AA Wairarapa chairman Craig Bowyer would be stepping into his role.

“I’m in my early 80s, and to be able to pass the baton on to someone young with the same passion and integrity is great.

“Why not walk away now having had a great time with a wonderful organisation? And know that someone will do equally well.”

A keen surfer, Horrocks said he was looking forward to spending time by the sea at the family bach in Akitio.

WRSC manager Bruce Pauling said Horrocks would be missed, and both his common sense and keen humour had seen many of his ideas adopted.

From improved signage and roads, to motivating government agencies to deliver better outcomes for road users, Pauling said Horrocks “has always been the first to offer his support, time and ideas”.

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