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Celebrating A Centenary Of Service

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South Burnett mayor Keith Campbell and his wife Marion congratulate Murgon RSL Sub-Branch president Trevor Williamson OAM on the centenary celebrations

The lit flame is carried through the town hall at the start of the official commemorations

August 21, 2019

There was plenty of emotion – plus some very enthusiastic musical performances  – when the Murgon RSL Sub-Branch celebrated its centenary in the local Town Hall on Saturday night.

Sub-Branch members and volunteers from the Citizens Auxiliary organised the Commemorative Dinner.

The 1st Regiment Royal Australian Artillery Band put on a stirring performance which could be heard blocks away – and even got people up and dancing.

The Sub-Branch invited Murgon residents to come along and enjoy a free concert from the Town Hall balcony, and many took up the opportunity.

When the music stopped, the official commemorations began which included a Flame Ceremony, the Ode, Last Post and Rouse, and official speeches.

A vacant “Table For The Fallen” laid out for one absent diner was set up in a corner of the hall as a poignant reminder of all the lives lost in war.

Sub-Branch president Trevor Williamson OAM detailed some of the history of the association, which was formed on September 1, 1919, by Murgon residents who had served in World War I.

The foundation stone for the Murgon War Memorial was laid on Anzac Day 1920 and was officially unveiled on November 30, 1921.

Initially, meetings were held in the upstairs room at the School of Arts, which stood near where the Commonwealth Bank is today.

The Sub-Branch then shifted into a room in the Town Hall building, where they met from 1939 to 1966 until the Murgon Services Club opened across the road.

Mr Williamson said the Sub-Branch currently had 62 service members.

“We have seen a resurgence in membership of the past 12-18 months,” he said.

He said the Sub-Branch recognised that it needed to modernise its operations to cater for the needs of younger veterans.

Planning for its new drop-in centre – to be built in Stephens Street West, between the Murgon Courthouse and the South Burnett Regional Council offices – was well under way.

A longer-term plan was also being developed to build low-cost housing for veterans on a block of former railway land behind the drop-in centre.

Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien, who committed a Coalition government to providing funding for the drop-in centre ahead of the Federal Election, said he had received a letter from Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack confirming the $450,000 grant.

Mr O’Brien made the announcement before performing the official Toast to the RSL.

RSL Queensland deputy president John Strachan OAM presented the Murgon Sub-Branch with a new copy of the Sub-Branch charter.

Local police officer Alan Gerrard,  a director of the Murgon RSL Sub-Branch, then performed the Loyal Toast.

Compere for the evening was Andrew Plint.

The 29-member 1st Regiment Royal Australian Artillery Band travelled from their base at the Gallipoli Barracks in Enoggera for the concert and commemorative dinner

World War II veteran Alfred Purser and his wife Heather, from Murgon

Murgon Sub-Branch past president Harold Seng and Brenda Merrick, from Beachmere

Sub-Branch past presidents Trevor Sanderson,  from Murgon, and Albert Benson, who now lives in Gympie

Murgon Sub-Branch deputy president David Pitstock with former Wide Bay & Burnett District president Don Davey, from Kingaroy

Murgon RSL Sub-Branch past president Jim Kingston OAM with his wife Evelyn

The oldest and youngest members of the Murgon RSL Sub-Branch, World War II veteran Alfred Purser and East Timor / Kuwait veteran Jason Heath joined with president Trevor Williamson, centre, to cut the 100th anniversary cake

… and here is the cake!

Wakka Wakka elder and Vietnam veteran Eric Law AM and his wife Shirley … Eric, a director of the Murgon RSL Sub-Branch, did the Welcome To Country

Opposition Leader and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington and Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien … Mr O’Brien led the Toast to the RSL

Feeling relieved as a great evening winds down … Murgon Sub-Branch president Trevor Williamson and his wife Liz, the secretary of the Murgon RSL Sub-Branch Citizens Auxiliary

Deputy Mayor Kathy Duff with Murgon RSL Sub-Branch Citizens Auxiliary president Gloria Bell

Wanda Rideout and Judith Corbet, from the Citizens Auxiliary, were greeting guests

Guests watched in silence as the formal commemorations began with a Flame Ceremony

Captain Edward Webster, 26 Transport Squadron, and former Murgon Sub-Branch president Jim Kingston received the flame before reading the poem, “In Flanders Fields”

RSL Queensland deputy president John Strachan OAM responded to the Toast to the RSL

Mr Strachan then presented a new charter to Trevor Williamson to replace the century-old original document

Murgon RSL Sub-Branch vice-president Daryl Porteous explained the significance of the items on the Table For The Fallen

A “Pass The Port” ceremony was performed at the end of the meal … with the port being piped into the hall in grand style

Working hard to keep the tables supplied with food and drinks were Jemma Holznagel, from Murgon, and Maryborough RSL Club volunteers Sarah Baker, Ashli Spalding, Coralie Druelle and Claudia Mackney

Deb Frecklington drew the raffle prizes and Gloria Bell presented the prizes to the winners … clockwise from top left, Darryl Hobbs, Murgon; Annette Hill, Murgon; Bill Taylor, Moura Sub-Branch; and Maureen Costello, Tin Can Bay

The historic Murgon Town Hall was packed with official guests for the Commemorative Dinner … the balcony area was also filled with local residents eager to enjoy the free concert

* * *

1st Regiment Royal Australian Artillery Band

Band members played and sang enthusiastically for more than an hour, performing everything from Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood” to Lee Kernaghan’s “Spirit of the Anzacs”.

[UPDATED]


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