‘So helpful’ locals make surfing couple’s big day

There’s been a groundswell of support from the Raglan community to help ensure next week’s wedding of pro surfer Billy Stairmand to local surf shop manager Liana Parker is judged a perfect 10.

“Everyone’s been so helpful,” Liana told the Chronicle just ahead of the couple’s big day. “It’s quite overwhelming, and I know I’m living in a really good place.”

The 33 year old – who’s originally from Cornwall in England – reckons she has everything now, from bunting and vintage table runners to lighting and locally made dream catchers, after putting out a plea for help on Facebook last week.

“Wedding is looming, budget is small,” she posted after a little encouragement from friends. “Looking for some kind donations to make mine and Billy Stairmand’s day beautiful.”

The response has all but guaranteed the Friday afternoon boho-chic wedding on private property in Whale Bay should go off without a hitch – other than their own hitching, of course.

The location they’ve chosen has a “really amazing view” overlooking both the remote surfing break Spot X and Whaingaroa Harbour, enthuses Billy who grew up in Raglan, attended the local surfing academy and has gone on to win the New Zealand open men’s title a record six times.

The 28 year old was on site last weekend, building a deck from which the pair will say their vows.

Also on site is an old barn which will be strewn with hay bales to create a casual

setting for the 100-odd guests to socialise after the wedding ceremony. Fittingly, the Point Boardriders marquee will also be erected close by.

“We’ll keep it Kiwi,” Billy insists of the big day. It’ll be shorts, shirts and jandals for the guys if it’s hot, he reckons. He and Liana will wear white but there’ll be some formality with blue suspenders (braces) and a blue bow tie for Billy.

The couple’s two-year-old dog Obie will walk down the aisle – on a leash and ‘suitably’ attired – with one of Liana’s bridesmaids.

The marriage celebrant will be longtime local Wayne Morris who’s known Billy since he was a grom with long blond hair (Liana confesses to confusing Billy with a girl in an early family photo). Raglan Buds is in charge of flowers and Molly McCabe, who grew up at Manu Bay, will do photos and filming.

Billy and Liana met five years ago in Newquay – dubbed the UK’s surf capital – when he was at a WQS (world qualifying series) surf comp and she was working for Quicksilver, managing the town’s then local surf shop.

Soon after, he invited her on a holiday to Spain. As fate would have it, Liana had just decided to make a move Down Under anyway.

Billy says he bought a ring and built up the courage to pop the question on a romantic picnic at Wainui Bush Park 18 months ago because they’d been together so long and it was all working so well.

Now he’s excited at getting friends and family together – from as far away as England and Australia – to “celebrate our love … celebrate the future”.

Billy’s only regret is the absence of his mother Anita who lost her fight with breast cancer more than a year ago now. But he flew her over from Australia for their engagement party in Raglan, where she also got to say goodbye to old friends.

It was “bittersweet”, says Liana.

There’ll be no honeymoon just yet, say the couple. Billy is off over the ditch on Sunday for two weeks, for the World Qualifying Series 6000 at Newcastle and Manly.

They agree they’d like, say, two children of their own but not for at least a couple of years as there are some serious surfing goals to be tackled first.

Billy’s keen to make the World Championship Tour for which he needs to be among the top 10, competitively, by the end of this year.  “I’m pretty far down at the moment,” he says.

Then there’s the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan –  the first time surfing’s included as an Olympic sport. It’s Billy’s other big goal and Liana’s right behind him, considering he’s “still in his 20s”.

Meantime there’s always Obie – the next best to having a grom of their own, they reckon.

Edith Symes