Much to draw upon for Wanaka centenarian

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An eye for art keeps Reg Deason looking forward to each day.

The Wanaka man, who celebrated his 100th birthday on Tuesday, sits and works on his drawings most days, which range from architectural monuments to medieval scenes.

Born in Essex, he was brought to New Zealand as a child in 1923, travelling on the SS Ionic

Mr Deason worked as a draughtsman for New Zealand Railways, working on technical drawings and travelling all around the South Island, “making sure everything was up to standard”.

He was an accomplished singer and a founding member of the Dunedin Operatic Society.

Although he was offered an opera scholarship in England, he chose to focus on his family – he and his wife Kate had six children.

Most of his artistic drawings are created from memory, as he recalls places he visited during extensive travels with his wife.

“I’ve virtually done the world twice,” he recalled.

Places visited include Afghanistan, Iran, Germany and Russia.

“I spent quite a bit of time in Germany, and I spent a lot of time in Russia – I thoroughly enjoyed Russia.

“Surprisingly enough, there are a damn sight more people speaking reasonable English than you would expect.”

Some of his drawings are of historical scenes, including a depiction of Spanish and English troops fighting.

Others depict ancient buildings, including Hadrian’s Temple, which he visited in the 1970s.

Of particular interest was visiting Afghanistan.

“It was a hell of a country, and still is, that’s a fact.

“If I go down there again, which I very much doubt at my age, I would have to go through Afghanistan.”

Age was not preventing him enjoying his life.

“I’m not feeling 100 at all.

“I feel good enough to be here a wee while longer.”

Detailed work . . . A drawing by Reg Deason of St Mary’s Anglican Church in Timaru.