Allan Cleave was born in Kurow —Arnold Nordmeyer country. In fact, it was the young Presbyterian minister Nordmeyer (Leader of the Opposition 1963-65) who conducted Allan’s parents’ wedding.
The first child of five, Allan was almost school age when his family moved to Kaikoura, where they lived in the married men’s quarters of the railway village while his father worked on building a railway tunnel. Living on the coast gave Allan a great delight in fishing.
In 1941, when Allan was seven, the family moved to Bryndwyr, Christchurch. In his late teens he got work managing a fruit and vege shop. Joyce, still at high school, worked at the shop on a Saturday. One rainy afternoon, after the shop closed, Alan walked Joyce home and asked her to go out with him the next day. ‘Oh no,’ she replied. ‘On Sundays I go to church.’
So Allan started going to church as well—to The Salvation Army at Spreydon. ‘I had to get him right before I married him,’ Joyce laughs. They were married a few years later, when Joyce was 20 and Alan 23. So began their long years of involvement with Spreydon Corps (church), where Allan became treasurer and then sergeant major. The couple started a Sunday school in their home with 15 children but had to move into a bigger space as numbers steadily grew to around 90 children.
Allan became part of the band, songsters and men’s fellowship at the corps, along with other Army activities in the area. He and Joyce cooked for camps and officers councils, and for more than 20 years Allan managed Salvation Army shops at Addington, then Halswell. For years, he organised the annual Red Shield Appeal, a role that he continues today in the Halswell area. When Spreydon closed as a corps, Allan and Joyce moved to Hornby Corps. In more recent years, for family reasons, they’ve been attending Halswell Baptist Church.
As if this wide range of involvement was not enough, Allan has also given years of effort to Lions, Victim Support and Civil Defence. He recently turned 80, but still regularly picks up donated bread for distribution, and is now into his 50th year taking the War Cry to local pubs.
A raft of awards, such as the Caltex Unsung Hero award (2000) and the Melvin Jones Fellow (awarded in 2009 by Lions Club International Foundation for dedicated humanitarian services). celebrate Allan’s life, lived for the benefit of others. Widely known in the community and greatly loved by his family, Allan is quick to explain that he has done everything with the blessing and full support of Joyce. ‘We have done everything together over the years,’ Joyce explains. ‘And we always eat half an apple each before we go to bed at night!’
How does Allan keep going, way past retirement age, one wonders. ‘Retirement?’ he says, ‘As long as God gives me good health, two good arms, two good legs and two good eyes, I’ll just keep going. I haven’t got time to become a grumpy old man!’
by Allan Cleave(c) 'War Cry' magazine, 7 February 2015, pp9.
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