Streets Of London: Mark Parker Memorial Weekend
Mark Parker Memorial Weekend
Mark Parker was a friend of mine. He was not a close friend. He was one of those people that you always were grateful to see propped up at the bar. He had a lovely friendly face and a ready laugh. Mark was the kind of guy who would often rescue my night when I was finding everyone else was a little scary; I would tuck in next to him and tell him stories to hear him laugh.
I did not have a chance to get to know him, to learn his other qualities, as Mark was killed in the Bali bombings.
Mark had lived in London for 3 years, working and travelling. He had come over originally to play cricket for the St. Cross Cricket Club in Winchester. He had worked in the city, working in the back office of the trading rooms. Before Mark came to London he had worked in Wellington; having completed a Marketing and Management degree at Otago University after attending Timaru Boys.
He was in Bali for a couple of week’s holiday before heading back to New Zealand. He was heading back to play cricket for the Onslow Cricket Club and to try and break into the Wellington first class team. He had already played first class cricket for Otago whilst he was at University.
I am writing this now, ten months after his death, as I have just attended a memorial weekend for Mark at his cricket club. The Parker family had flown over from New Zealand for the weekend. They came to meet Mark’s friends from the Cricket Club and London, to see where and how Mark lived.
Meeting Mark’s friends here in London was important to the Parkers. London can be a strange place for young New Zealanders. We make friends here, shared experiences in an odd land lead to new friends. Often these people come from all over the world, but mostly they come from home. People that we would never have met in New Zealand become firm friends. It is often hard for families and friends in New Zealand to put faces to all these new people in their loved ones lives. And when a tragedy strikes, as it did the Parkers, families are contacted by hundreds of people that they cannot place. This weekend, was a lovely chance for the Parkers to put faces to all those names.
The St. Cross Cricket Club’s ground is on the outskirts of the historic city of Winchester, about 70 miles south of London. The grounds are as you would imagine an English cricket club to be, with two ovals bordered by trees and hedges before the eye is drawn to a stone church barely visible through the trees. When we were there, it was one of England’s mythical summer days. The sky was a high blue, flecked with touches of white. A slight breeze moved through the dark green of the Oak Trees and touched the Crimson of the Cricket Clubs Flag.
The weekend took the format of a 6-aside tournament on the Sunday and an Invitational game on the Monday. I was lucky enough to be in Tim Parkers side, Marks younger brother, for the 6-aside tournament. Lucky, as Tim, is a lovely batsman, long and lean with that effortless natural timing that cannot be taught, like his brother, Uncle and Father before him. However, even he could not manage to lift us to the required standard and we fell away after the round robin stage. The tournament was hotly contested, with both the English and New Zealand players putting on a wonderful display of heavy hitting of some average bowling.
The next day was an invitational game played on the sacred grounds of Winchester College. The game was a NZ invitational Team vs. St. Cross Cricket Club. The NZ team was stacked with batting, with Tim, John and Murray Parker in the side, amongst other notables but seemed a little light on bowling. The game ended in a well-deserved draw.
The weekend was not about cricket. The cricket, no matter how enjoyable, was the pre-text for people coming together to remember Mark. Cricket was only one part of Mark’s life and that was shown by the cross section of people that came down to Winchester. The cricket gave an easy conversation starter, an ice-breaker; to people that did not know each other. It was the shared experience of Mark’s death that bound the crowd, that and wanting to pay our respects for the Parker family’s tragic loss.
In an effort to make something worthwhile from their loss the Parker family have set up the Mark Parker Memorial Trust. The Trust is to help young New Zealanders reach their potential and identify and support future leaders. They are currently in the fundraising stage of the trusts work and are looking to award the first scholarship in the near future.
A Fundraising Auction was held on Sunday night, items having been brought from New Zealand by the Parker’s and been donated to St. Cross. The Auction raised in excess of £4000 pounds with the most memorable item was a signed Hurricanes jersey. Only memorable, as a couple, comically and blindly, bid against each other, raising the price from £150 to £400.
The night ended as it always should, with some dancing.
It occurred to me driving back to London that during this Weekend, or during Mark’s memorial service or at his Wake in London, that no-one spoke had spoken of the bombers. No-one spoke angrily, people only spoke of loss. We were there to remember a friend, to celebrate a friend.
I think that is the greatest testament to the Parker Family and Mark’s friends. It was about Mark. It was not about the men that had taken his and some many others’s lives.
For the more that we seek revenge, the more that we are made truly angry by acts as cruel and unfeeling as the Bali Bombing, we are losing what makes us different from the bombers.
I think that we should seek justice, we should always seek justice, but revenge is not ours to take.
If you would like to know more about the trust or
make a donation visit