Tuesday night is usually ACM Cycling Section’s race night. This evening our club came together as a family for a Memorial Ride to remember and honour Darren and Josh Southon, to offer support to Lisa, Jorja, wider whanau and to one another at this tragic time. Since news reached us of the sudden loss of Darren and young Josh, his family and friends have been grieving deeply, and struggling with their loss. Tonight’s ride was to honour the memory of two much loved members of our community.
Darren has been acknowledged by all to be an all-round good bloke. He knew how to have fun but also when to be serious. Darren was able to relate to all sorts of people and will be remembered for his easy manner and big smile. Josh was just at the start of what should have been a brilliant and long life. He too loved to have fun with his friends and family, emerging as a junior version of his Dad.
After a minute of respectful silence, the lead car, with both Josh and Darren’s bikes mounted on its roof headed south from Dixon Street. The Tararua Builders Race team and family members led out a peleton of 300+ cyclists, including ACM club members, colleagues, friends, NZ Classic team riders and guests. Non-cycling members of the community lined the route in tribute to these two precious community members. The whole ride was run under a mobile Traffic Management Plan keeping everyone safe – thanks traffic management team.
As we rode many of us remembered precious times spent with Darren. For many of us it is heart-breaking to realise that the small bike on the roof of the car we were following will never be upgraded to a full-sized bike, and we can no longer ride with the owner of the full-sized bike!
Following the ride, and presentation of the NZ Classic teams, refreshments were served at the home of Mike and Tracey Wilkinson – thanks to you both for the hospitality. Here more stories of times shared with Darren and Josh were recounted. Right now, none of us who have been left behind can quite comprehend the full extent of our loss for these two lives cut short before their time.
Darren and Josh, rest in peace and rise in glory, you are gone, but will never be forgotten. Our thoughts, prayers and support remain with Lisa, Jorja, family and friends.