Overall, the Yarrawonga-Mulwala RSL Sub-Branch can feel proud of its history according to its current president Ian Summers and secretary Brian Cossar OAM.
“What’s impressed me the most were the presidents and others who kept the idea of RSL alive and created the club,” Mr Summers told the Yarrawonga Chronicle.
Mr Cossar’s special praise related to all the voluntary work. “Going through the Minutes of old meetings and reading of the voluntary work done by the RSL was absolutely amazing,” he said.
“This is what’s kept the place together. If they were paid positions you wouldn’t have the good numbers coming to the meetings. The Pensions Officer, the Welfare Officer, the Memorabilia Officer, the Eulogy Officer - all volunteers. People who do the work do it willingly.”
Yarrawonga-Mulwala RSL Sub-Branch also gladly services the areas of Lake Rowan, St James and Tungamah when their sub-branches closed down because of declining members.
The eternal local welcome to returned servicemen has not always been the case at other sub-branches according to Mr Cossar. “I’ve been around to other sub-branches where there has not been a welcome back. Here, we are so welcoming to veterans,” he said.
“We have over 400 members, some as far away as Ocean Grove. Veterans who have moved from Yarrawonga/Mulwala still want to be part of our sub-branch.”
Today’s local RSL leaders expressed their gratitude to ClubMulwala, saying they are “forever grateful for anything and everything”.
“ClubMulwala has been 100 per cent supportive of the RSL,” Mr Summers said. “They’ve bent over backwards for war veterans.”
A largish house in Yarrawonga which became RSL House was acquired in the 1980s. A very close working relationship exists between RSL and Cobram-Yarrawonga Legacy, and of course, with the Yarrawonga-Mulwala RSL Women’s Auxiliary.
The understanding and co-operation by all organisations allows for daily check-ups on war veterans and war widows, and follow-up assistance as necessary.
Street stalls are part of the fundraising by the women’s auxiliary, for example. “The whole community is involved in it, not just the RSL,” Mr Summers said.
Numerous excellent individual efforts by RSL members have taken place. “Stan Clarke OAM has been marvellous with all his writings. His publication ‘Murray Heroes’ was absolutely excellent.
“A plethora of speakers have gone into schools to raise awareness of Australia’s war efforts over the years, wars which involved both men and women.”
In addition to the president and secretary, Bruce Neal, John Duncan, Kerry Pendergast and Di Pendergast have spoken to so many school students at local schools. “It’s great to see so many students from our schools actively involved in the Dawn Service and Anzac Day,” Mr Summers said.
Mr Cossar said that yesteryear, the RSL had to ask schools for their involvement in these significant events. “But for the past 20 years or so, the schools have come to us. We very much appreciate their involvement which they do superbly,” he said.
Both Vietnam Veterans, the president and secretary are in the second year of their roles. Mr Cossar was RSL President from 2008 to 2012. Mr Summers was RSL Secretary from 2000 to 2008. Both said they looked up to the likes of RSL presidents Tom Thompson and Horrie Prescott upon returning from Vietnam.
“I loved coming up here (RSL and ClubMulwala) talking to Horrie, and Des O’Meara OAM (also a club president),” Mr Summers said. “Horrie and Des were presidents and secretaries to each other. It’s great to see another Des O’Meara as our current club president, who along with CEO Alan Rowe, has the club in a sound financial position. On the menu (for the 100 year dinner) all presidents will be listed.
“We thank everyone involved in having this vision for an RSL Sub-Branch and for the support along the sub-branch’s journey of 100 years. Our 100 years anniversary dinner will be a celebration for all those people.”
Special RSL 100 Years sporting days are to be held as follows:
A 4 Person Ambrose Golf Tournament at Black Bull Golf Course, Silverwoods on Thursday, April 12; $200 per team, huge range of prizes and barbecue. Team registrations at club on 5744 0044.
A $1,000 Men’s Bowls Event at ClubMulwala on Saturday, April 21, $30 per team, lots of prize-money and light lunch.