Anzac Day services in Northern Rivers will continue despite flood damage

The record floods that devastated parts of the Northern Rivers earlier this year were not enough to stop many people in the New South Wales region from going beyond to ensure that services Anzac Day continues.

Lismore City RSL Sub-Branch Secretary Wilson McClelland said the main cenotaph at the Memorial Baths was damaged in the first flood, but temporary repairs were made to allow the dawn service to continue. continue.

He said special permission had also been granted for a street march in the Lismore CBD.

Mr McClelland said it was important for the community to come together to remember those who lost their lives in wars.

“It’s always important to veterans and the community, but I think this year even more so because of the devastation that has happened to everyone,” he said.

The Lismore Cenotaph was completely submerged in the 2022 floods.(Supplied: Lismore Town RSL Sub-Branch)

Special Tribute to First Responders

Murwillumbah Sub-Branch RSL Anzac Day coordinator Derek Sims said this year’s service would include a special tribute to emergency service workers and volunteers.

“This year, for the first time, we are asking first responders and others who have helped us during floods, bushfires and COVID-19 [to come] and let the public see them, thank them and involve them in service,” he said.

A stone memorial surrounded by fake poppies and an Australian flag.
Lismore’s first war memorial was erected in 1926.(ABC North Coast: Kim Honan)

Mr Sims said Monday would be the first time Anzac Day services have been held in the city since the pandemic.

He said the Cenotaph narrowly escaped flood damage.

A bridge rail with "Let's not forget it" written in red poppies.
Kaileen Casey of the Rotary Club says crocheting is an activity for young and old.(Provided: Geoff White)

Weatherproof Poppies

A bridge adorned with bright red poppies that could withstand the weather seemed like a fitting way for a city that had suffered record flooding to honor the sacrifices of the men and women who served in war.

Kaileen Casey of the Rotary Club said there were exactly 7,841 hand-crocheted poppies along the Murwillumbah Bridge this year.

She said the idea was conceived last year, with the humble goal of covering a single pole.

But the community response far exceeded expectations and by 2021 there were enough poppies to cover the entire length of the bridge on one side.

Red crochet poppies on a bridal rail with a sign that says "Poppies on parade".
Kaileen Casey says the project received an overwhelming response.(Provided: Geoff White)

Ms Casey said interest and support continued to grow and there was now enough to cover both sides of the bridge.

“It’s so close to the hearts of all of us,” she said.

Hundreds of people contributed in part to the Poppies on Parade project, Ms Casey said, because there was “no harm” in crocheting.

“It’s a project that’s not restricted to any age…and it’s an activity that anyone can do,” she said.

An aerial view of a country town flooded by flood waters.
Murwillumbah was one of many towns flooded in 2022.(Supplied: Tweed Shire Council)

Border Services Returns

At the border, Norm Henstridge of the Tweed Heads Coolangatta RSL sub-branch said he hoped Monday would be a return to normal after two years of disruption.

“Our sub-branch is a bit unusual in that it’s right on the border,” he said.

“We are actually physically located in New South Wales, but we are part of RSL Queensland and with border closures and various restrictions over the past couple of years, that has been a challenge.”

Mr Henstridge said the sub-branch was able to have a reduced Anzac Day service last year on the Queensland side, but it would be good to see full service return.

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