News

Legacy caring for 143 war widows

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February 28, 2018

Legatee Brian Cossar (left) presents a Past President’s Certificate to Legatee John West.

Members of the Cobram/Yarrawonga Legacy Group Executive 2018 - L to R Brian Cossar, Ian Summers, Robert Flack (President), John West, Deb Beverley, Neil (Butch) Tennant. Absent Des O’Meara (Treasurer) and Jeff Haebich (Hon. Auditor).

The local Legacy group held its annual Changeover dinner at Club Mulwala on, Saturday February 24, attended by 50 Legatees and guests.

2018 marks 69 years of caring for war widows by the Cobram/Yarrawonga Group of Melbourne Legacy
The Cobram/Yarrawonga Legacy Group at present has 143 war widows under its care.
Legacy Group membership was strengthened in 2017 by the induction of two new Legatees Brian Bouchier and Geoff Pigdon of Yarrawonga bringing to 22 Legatees (including three reserve) who continue to carry out the great work of Legacy.
During the Changeover dinner a standing ovation was given to the Group’s very active and dedicated secretary Brian Cossar on being awarded a richly deserved OAM in the 2017 Australia Day Honours List.

Installation
Master of Ceremonies Brian Cossar said the installation of group president is normally performed by the current president of Melbourne Legacy, but unfortunately legatee Graeme Plumridge had a clash of dates, and had to attend the Victorian Legacy Clubs Presidents’ Meeting in Geelong, so it fell back on the group to have a former president to step in.
The group is delighted that their longest serving legatee, Tony Nieuwenhout was charged to perform the induction of legatee Rob Flack as the next president of Cobram/Yarrawonga Legacy Group.
Tony was inducted into Legacy 30 years ago on the 5th December 1987. He has served this group with distinction, ensuring above all that the care and needs of war widows assigned to him were his priority, and that continues to this day.  His wife Noreen has been by his side at all times and the welfare work they performed was done without question.  Tony certainly fits the criteria of what a legatee should be.  Tony served this group as president in financial years 1993/94, calendar years 2010 and 2011; secretary in 1995 and 2000; pension officer in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
Tony said he felt very honoured to install Robert Flack as the 2018 president of Cobram/Yarrawonga Legacy Group and wished Robert every success as he handed to him the charter of Legacy and the code of Legacy and charged him to honour them and keep fair the name of Legacy.
The new president said he felt honoured to be installed by such a distinguished Legatee as Tony Nieuwenhout. He congratulated past presidents on their great leadership and hoped he could continue the tradition.
Robert thanked Club Mulwala for its ongoing support to Legacy and thanked Brian Cossar and outgoing president John West for their support and encouragement. He was looking forward to many more happy times with the Legacy widow clubs in Cobram and Yarrawonga.
Robert Flack was proposed for Legacy membership by his fellow Legatees from Tocumwal, Graham Crowther and Bill Danaher, and was inducted into Legacy on the 10th August 2006 by the then president Stuart Spinks. Robert enjoyed the outdoors with his employment prior to retirement and enjoyed his football, cricket, CFA, RSL, fishing and camping.  Rob is married to Marlene.
John West of Cobram who has just completed two terms as president reported on a busy year.
“We closed the year 2017 in a sound financial position while maintaining our assistance to Legacy widows and families,” John said.
“Congratulations to Robert Flack, incoming Chairman and his Executives for 2018. The depth of Legatee representation has been strengthened by Brian Bouchier and Geoff Pigdon joining our ranks during 2017.
“2017 saw us start with 152 widows and finish with 143 at year end.
“Fundraising was healthy during 2017 with over $14,000 raised during Badge Week and Golf Days held annually.
“Pam Rooney and Rosalie Trott took on the Chairmanship of Widows Clubs at Yarrawonga and Cobram respectively during 2017 and a successful annual Widows Christmas luncheon was held at ClubMulwala who continue to strongly support our Legacy Group in so many important ways and we thank them sincerely.
“We have the following Legatees on Reserve Status, Dennis Bailey, Bill Bourke and John Rouel.
“Lt Gen Ash Power AO, CSC, retired, gave an excellent address at our September meeting where he covered a wide range of interesting strategic topics as well as Veterans Affairs insight.
“Brian Cossar was awarded a richly deserved OAM in the 2017 Australia Day Honours List and Legatee Debbie Ringersma married Andrew Beverley in October 2017.
“Thankyou sincerely for the privilege to be your chairman for 2016 and 2017.”
Robert Flack introduced his executive for 2018 – Immediate Past President John West, Vice-President Ian Summers, Hon Secretary/Contact Secretary Brian Cossar, Hon Treasurer Desmond O’Meara, Pensions Officer Ian Summers, Widows’ Clubs Liaison Officers – Yarrawonga Deb Beverley, Cobram N.A. (Butch) Tennant, Hon Auditor Jeff Haebich.
Legacy Widow Club reports were presented by Pam Rooney president Yarrawonga, and Rosalie Trott president Cobram.

Legacy History
Legacy Group secretary Brian Cossar researched and delivered a most interesting history of Cobram/Yarrawonga Legacy.
“69 years ago on the 14th May 1949 Legacy was commenced in the Cobram area with the formation of the Cobram Legacy Group, part of Melbourne Legacy. Des O’Dwyer was the first Chairman and he, along with Clem Basset-Smith were WW1 veterans.  The area covered at that time extended from Strathmerton to the West, Yarrawonga to the East, and South to a line compatible with the southern boundary of the Numurkah Group.  Later the area extended into NSW to include Barooga and Tocumwal,” Mr Cossar said.
There were no members of the Group from Yarrawonga until the induction of Bluey Duncan in 1958 and soon after Des O’Meara Snr was inducted into Legacy.  
In June 1982 the group changed its name from Cobram Legacy Group to Cobram/Yarrawonga Legacy Group. At the next meeting in July 1982, it was moved by Legatee Tom Thompson and seconded by Legatee Tom Mullarvey that Yarrawonga Legatees withdraw from the newly named Cobram/Yarrawonga Legacy Group to form a separate Group in Yarrawonga/Mulwala.  Some rigorous discussion took place, the motion was put, and as written in the minutes, got the big “A”, there being only one vote recorded for the motion.
“In September 1995 the group changed its reporting year from a financial year (July-June) to a calendar year (Jan-Dec), which you may have noted when looking at the annual report past presidents.
Operation Firewood commenced in the Cobram area from a small RSL Sub-Branch at Yarroweyah and from there the area was expanded to collect at different locations within the group area.  Major working bees took place and the wood was transported to various drop-off points in Melbourne, and from there, service clubs assisted Legacy in Melbourne to distribute firewood to Legacy families free of charge throughout suburban Melbourne.  Operation Firewood was a huge success story, and along with other areas in the State, it is estimated that the value of firewood supplied over the years exceeded $3,000,000.
“In later years, Cobram/Yarrawonga Group did not have the numbers of Legacy children to be cared for because of the increasing age of them into adulthood.  However the group did readily assist families with school fees, clothing, dental and other types of expenses which were a burden to a young widow with children and no husband or father to care for them.
“Twenty six years ago in 1992, two widows’ clubs were formed, one at Yarrawonga and one at Cobram, and I am pleased to say that they are both still active where they continue to hold their respective monthly meetings of friendship and fellowship with one another.  Bus outings seem to be a favourite and next month they will be holding a combined 26th birthday luncheon here at Clubmulwala.
“Fundraising has been and still is an important part of Legacy to ensure that the widows and families in necessitous circumstances are continually provided for.  The group commenced by assisting 20 young families in 1949 without a father figurehead.  The number rapidly grew and so did the Legacy care where in 2003 there were in excess of 300 war widows.
“There are a lot of people and organisations who still assist Legacy with its fundraising activities and the group is forever grateful for the support it received.  There has been a marked change in numbers where today we have a total of 143 war widows.
“Cobram/Yarrawonga Legacy Group is proud of its history and the way it still responds to the needs of its widows under its care, and will continue well into the future to ensure that this voluntary work is carried out.”

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