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Paul-Christie | RSL LifeCare - provide care and service to war veterans, retirement villages and accommodation, aged care services and assisted living
July 01, 2019

Paying homage

Mondo Rock bassist Paul Christie has played on stages around the world, performing to thousands as a member of Australian rock music’s elite.

But what might seem like an exciting life to most is, to Paul, effectively, a job.

Another of his heart’s pursuits lies closer to home, at “The War Vets” in Narrabeen, otherwise known as RSL ANZAC Village. Here he holds great admiration for some residents who, as younger men and women, had a much more crucial job of their own to undertake.

“I have been here (The War Vets) a number of times and each time I visit I form more and more of an emotional attachment to this place,” he said.

The reason he came to the War Vets most recently was to attend a garage sale which had been advertised in The Manly Daily. That was in 2017. It was a sale of goods belonging to Cliff Stevens.

“When we arrived a fellow greeted us,” Paul said. “We walked inside and he introduced us to a very elderly man named Cliff.

“He said that because Cliff was quite elderly they wanted to clear some space for him to comfortably dwell in his last days.”

Cliff Stevens, now deceased, had ridden the motorcycle which is on display in a cabinet in the Dugout. “I took an immediate shine to Cliff and I asked the chap if I could sit next to and speak with him,” Paul said.

Paul introduced him to his partner Jenny who also resonated with Cliff and who and felt for his situation.

At one point she had to go outside where she wept. “Here was a man who had served his country and he was in his final days,” he said.

He said it was a sobering experience to learn about Cliff – this young boy on a motorcycle avoiding German bullets and shells and mortars.

Paul said he was enthralled to hear stories about the despatch rider who used to deliver messages in the thick of battle.

“I often look back and think ‘you know, in my life, I’ve never really had any problems’,” he said. “Nothing like this.”

In August, Mondo Rock will take to stages in a national tour. Paul has also begun a new band called the Rhythm & Blues Spectacular.

“My life has been the complete opposite,” he said. “A soldier has to defend and, at times, terminate other people’s lives. That’s what’s required of them. My job is to enliven other people’s lives by making them feel good, by playing music.”

Paul first visited the War Vets some years earlier to see his best friend’s father, a pilot, Captain Eric Robertson.

“My relationship with this place began with Eric but really cemented itself with Cliff,” he said.

He and Jenny have been back three times since meeting the motorcycle despatch rider, to visit other veterans and their partners.

“I was not born when there was a war I could be sent to, and I never enlisted. I took another career path.

“Our being here is not because I wanted to be a soldier; I’m not on some huge crusade. But I just have so much respect for those who did go down that path.

“I feel I have a connection with the people who served and I am very proud of them.”

Story by Rod Bennett

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