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Arthur Varney, Field Secretary NZ YMCA

Rare NZ YMCA MBE WW1 Group

SKU: ZM141
  • The rare MBE and British War Medal pair awarded to Arthur Varney, former General Secretary of the New Zealand YMCA who was recognised for his work in establishing the NZ YMCA presence in the UK and France during the First World War. Just 33 medals to the NZ YMCA were issued for service in WW1, making it one of the rarest variations issued by New Zealand for that conflict.


    The following obituary which outlines Arthur Varney's life is taken from the Evening Post 10th february 1942. Private advice was received in Wellington today of the sudden death at Dunedin yesterday of Mr. Arthur Varney, who until transferring to Macandrew Bay a year or so ago had resided for many years in Wellington. Widely known for his service in the interests of others', he took a leading part in work for various organisations, being perhaps best known here for his association with the Y.M.C.A. and the Wellington Cricket Association, as well as for his work in the interests of those who served in the last war. In recognition of his service he was awarded the M.B.E.

    As a young man he took up the teaching profession in England, and he later occupied important educational posts in New Zealand. He was the first principal of the Wanganui Technical College. In 1912 he succeeded Mr. H. Holmes as general secretary of the Y.M.C.A., and it was largely through his enthusiasm and initiative that the New Zealand Y.M.C.A. war work in the last war came into being. He was actively connected with that work overseas during the war, being prominently associated with the Shakespeare Hut in England and others elsewhere. On his return from England he became one of the national secretaries of the movement, and for many years served the organisation in a national sense - wholeheartedly in the cause whether in times of stress or in periods of its success. In later years he was connected with the insurance business. A devoted follower of cricket, he played a notable part on the administrative side of the game in Wellington. For many years prior to his transferring to Dunedin he was secretary of the Wellington Cricket Association, and proved himself to be one of that body's and the game's most faithful servants. He had much to do with arrangements for visiting teams, and won the respect of all cricketers - visitors and local alike - for the courtesy and kindness shown them. He was interested, too, in Rugby football and other forms of sport. The late Mr. Varney is survived by his wife and one daughter (Mrs. J. McPherson), of Macandrew Bay, Dunedin, who will have the sympathy of a very wide circle of friends. News was received recently that a grandson, on service in the Navy, had been reported missing.


    Just three members of the NZ YMCA were recognised for the service during the First World War. His file, held at Archives New Zealand, shows he received his British War Medal in April 1923. The announcement of his admission to the Order of the British Empire was made in the London Gazette dated 15th March 1918. The British War Medal is correctly impressed FIELD SEC. A. VARNEY. Y.M.C.A. N.Z.

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