The Ayres and the Guards Athletic Association have been synonymous with each other dating back almost 100 years, so it was only fitting the Guards, along with the City of St. John’s, recently honoured the family with the unveiling of the Ayre Athletic Grounds Memorial.
The Memorial honours four members of the Ayre family who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916 during the First World War.
They were Captain Eric Stanley Ayre, Captain Bernard Pitts Ayre, Lieutenant Gerald Walter Ayre and Second Lieutenant Wilfred Douglas Ayre.
In 1923, Charles Pascoe Ayre donated land — which would become known as the Ayre Athletic Grounds — to the Methodist Guards Brigade, which two years later would be renamed the Guards Athletic Association.
The land was donated, “for the advancement of sports and physical fitness for the youth of St. John’s.”
Wilfred Douglas Ayre was Charles Pascoe Ayre’s son, and the other three fallen soldiers were his nephews.
A $100,000 Memorial, cost-shared between the city and the Guards, was recently unveiled at the Ayre Grounds, adjacent to the Charlie Warr Pavilion.
“Over the years,” said Guards Athletic Association chairman Bill Campbell, “thousands of the youth that Charles Ayre spoke of have used this field to practice and play the sports that in many ways helped determine the path they followed in later life.
“The different sports that young people play are only the structure within which important lessons are learned. Some of them are teamwork, comradeship, the will to compete and win and to engage in all aspects of life.
“The Greek ideal of a healthy body and a healthy mind is a philosophy still with us today.”
Miller Ayre, the former St. John’s city councillor and Telegram publisher — not mention a catcher on Guards baseball teams in the late 1950s and early 60s — and the great, great nephew of Charles Pascoe Ayre, represented the Ayre family.