ANZAC spirit celebrated with poignant services

Both services drew huge crowds on ANZAC Day.

AMIDST a dark overcast sky a crowd of around 6500 people assembled at 5:30am on Thursday 25 April for the traditional ANZAC Dawn Service at the Vernon Street Cenotaph in Coffs Harbour.

Parade Marshall Garry Heskett QBE assembled Coffs RSL sub-Branch members and a contingent from 725 Squadron Nowra in front of the Cenotaph, where they were joined by members of the public and a large group of school children.

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Present also were Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan, Coffs Harbour Mayor Paul Amos and wife Rosemary, City of Coffs Harbour GM Natalie Cowley, C.ex Group President Mr David Doyle OAM and Lt. Cmdr. Michael Cairncross RAN, Executive Officer 725 Sqd.

Coffs Harbour RSL sub-Branch President John Lloyd gave the Dawn Service address accompanied by Rev. Dr. Graham Whelan OAM.

The ANZAC Singers led the assembly through hymns and the National Anthem.

“A large contingent of wreath layers preceded the ‘Ode’ and the National Anthem,” said Mr Lloyd.

“The Catafalque Party was provided by our own C Coy 41st Bn RNSWR.”

Over 600 then attended the ‘Gun Fire Breakfast’ provided by the C.ex Club.

The main ANZAC service at 9.30am was equally well supported by around 6,500 in attendance, with the school children numbering over 200.

The march was led by the Military Brotherhood Motorcycle Club and disabled veterans in Jeeps, followed by flag bearers and the 15th Hunter River Lancers with the Australian Light Horse.

Serving members of the Defence forces led by 725 Sqd followed, accompanied by Coffs RSL veterans and community marchers including, for the first time, members of Coffs Harbour Surf Life Saving Club, marching to remember the huge number of SLSC members recruited for the First and Second World Wars.

All marched to the beat of the Coffs Pipes and Drums.

VIPs in attendance included State Member Gurmesh Singh, Mayor Paul Amos, David Doyle OAM, Lt Cmdr. Michael Cairncross, Coffs/Clarence Police Cmdr. Superintendent Joanne Shultz AP, CWA President Jodie Williams and Legacy representative Jane Sury.

“Following the arrival of one of our largest marches and their placement ‘On Parade’, the Cadets from 331 Sqd. AAFC mounted the Catafalque Party,” Mr Lloyd said.

The ANZAC address was delivered by the Executive Officer 725 Sqd, Lt. Cmdr. Michael Cairncross.

The Service was conducted with respect and order led by Coffs RSL President John Lloyd and Parade Commander Garry Heskett QBE.

Padre Rev. Program Whelan OAM led the prayers and the ANZAC Singers again led the hymns and National Anthem in fine voice.

Wreath layers were in abundance and their procession was accompanied by pipers playing the ‘Lament’.

At both services the Last Post and the Rouse were played by Coffs Brass Band bugler Ken Golden, whose magnificent efforts must be acknowledged following the passing of Brass Band trumpeter and 30 year veteran of ANZAC Days, Grant Rigby, on April 24.

“Well done Ken.”

A usual highlight of ANZAC Days has been the RAAF Flypast.

This year an E-7A Wedgetail flew over following the conclusion of the service.

Upon dismissal of the Parade, the veterans and members of the public adjourned to the C.ex Club for the traditional ANZAC Luncheon and game of Two-Up.

“Overall, a magnificent day of respect, acknowledgement and ANZAC tradition made possible by precision teamwork from the Coffs RSL members, the C.ex management and volunteers, City of Coffs Harbour, Coffs/Clarence Police, John Logan Entertainment, Coffs Pipes and Drums, bugler Ken, veterans young and old and our march participants,” said Mr Lloyd.

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