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April 30, 2020

ANZAC Day – We Did Remember Them

ANZAC Day is one of the most important days of the year in the RSL LifeCare calendar.

Despite restrictions and social distancing requirements, due to COVID-19, RSL LifeCare residents, clients, staff and the local community across NSW and the ACT did not waver in their commitment to commemorate those who serve their country.

As Australians always do, we called upon our distinctive qualities of mateship, humour, ingenuity, courage, sacrifice and endurance to find other ways to commemorate in a safe and respectful way.

From Ballina to Eden, Galston to Wagga Wagga and Narrabeen to Nowra, ANZAC Day was marked differently in 2020. We once again, rose early for the Dawn Service, donned ANZAC Dress, wore medals, pinned a sprig of rosemary and most importantly shared the ANZAC Spirit, however this year we all paid our respects from our own driveway or front door.

To see photos of the commemorations at our sites across NSW and the ACT – click here. (more photos will be added as they become available.)


Port Macquarie – Arthur Blackburn VC Gardens

Bill Cowie, 95, with Karen Cutcliffe, Tahlliah Sonter and Margaret Cudmore and right, his wife May, 93 at Pozieres Village, Port Macquarie.

ANZAC Day this year was different for May Cowie, 93.

The love of her life, 95-year-old husband Bill is a resident at Arthur Blackburn VC Gardens. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, she could not hold his hand.

Adorned with his medals and through the courtyard fence, words were not needed when Bill saw May. His love for her has always been immeasurable.

They have been married for 73 years. Their eyes first met when Bill was in the Royal Australian Air Force serving in England. They married just after the war ended in 1946.

Their story, along with Le Hamel resident and WWII Veteran, 95 year old Reg Bernauer who served in the Australia Army in Borneo as an engineer was in the Port News. Click here to see the article.


Picton – John Goodlet Manor (Queen Victoria Park)

Queen Victoria Park is home to John Goodlet Manor Residential Aged Care Facility, as well as a Spur & Equine program assisting younger Veterans. The two came together to mark ANZAC Day in a small service at 10am.

The service was attended by residents and staff who were witness to the re-commencement of an old ‘The War Veterans Home’ tradition. (as RSL LifeCare was previously known)

The new RSL LifeCare ‘Veterans Troop’ is a ceremonial honour guard that has been created by the Spur (Equine) Program Manager, Max Streeter (pictured on Darcy) and a group of Veterans who participated in the inaugural Spur Program. On this occasion the guard was limited to one person for social distancing reasons, however other members were standing by in support. The continues to grow John Goodlet Manor and there are hopes to have a full honour guard by 2021.


Ballina – Kokoda Village and Florence Price Gardens

In years gone by the residents of the RSL LifeCare Village and Aged Care Facility in Ballina would come together to commemorate ANZAC Day. This year village residents like WWII Veteran Colin Hilan created their own personal memorials on their balconies or driveways and residents of Florence Price Gardens had a closed service for residents and staff.

George McKinnon, WWII Veteran, read The Ode and was joined by other Veterans and War Widows including Harry Wybrow, Jim Vane, Fred Whyms and Jennie Goodall in commemoration of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.


Penrith – First Fleet Village

As a new Village, 2020 is the first year the community in Penrith has officially commemorated ANZAC Day, albeit without physically coming together.

The residents, including Veterans, created personal memorials and took to their driveways at Dawn to commemorate with each other whilst maintaining social distancing restrictions.

Veterans Ian King and Gary Fuller proudly wore their medals.

Bayside @ Byron

At 90 years of age, Arthur Phillips, Veteran and resident of Bayside at Byron laid a wreath at a memorial to remember Private Nathan Bewes who tragically lost his life from an improvised explosive device on Friday 9 July 2010 during service in Afghanistan with the 1st Mentoring Task Force.

The Bayside @ Byron Village community room has been named in memory of Private Bewes.

While the service was small it was very meaningful and featured a stunning wreath.


Narrabeen – RSL ANZAC Village, Connie Fall and Phyllis Stewart House

The spiritual home of RSL LifeCare was a hive of activity on ANZAC Day.

The site is home to the War Vets RSL sub-Branch who broadcast some of the traditional elements of an ANZAC service from a balcony for residents paying their respects at their doorways in the Beersheba area of the Village. The service included the reading of The Ode, by sub-Branch President Bob Durbin along with playing of the Last Post and Reveille, by Brian Evans.

An additional three buglers were located across the Village. The day was concluded with three Lone Bagpipers from the Knox Old Boys’ Pipe Band playing at sunset.

Residents of the Aged Care Facilities did not miss out. A group of WWII Veterans from Connie Fall became TV stars. The Veterans ranging in age from 92 to 99 talked of their experiences and memories of old friends with whom they served. Watch the piece from SBS One – Click Here.

Residents from Phyllis Stewart House commemorated with poppies, a special ANZAC Day menu and had a small march and service.

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