Large crowd pay their respects at Seven Hills Anzac Day dawn service

Seven Hills had one of its biggest attendances at an Anzac Day dawn service.

An estimated 4000 people went to the Cenotaph at Seven Hills-Toongabbie RSL on Tuesday morning to pay their respects to Australian servicemen and servicewomen.

Among the large crowd was World War Two and Vietnam War veterans, who were among the 1200 people who participated in the 5am march.

Seven Hills-Toongabbie-Wentworthville RSL Sub-Branch president Graeme Quinn said the veteran’s appreciated the community’s strong support at the service.

“I’m very happy to see so many people show up,” he said.

“I would say it was as big as the 100th anniversary service [in 2015].

“The sub branch has put in a lot of effort to get young people involved and it was great to see a lot of younger people at the service.

“It is good to have families involved as it is important that the Anzac spirit never disappears.”

During the service, Lieutenant Mark Olssen from the Royal Australian Navy delivered the prologue.

Leading aircraftsman Aiden Pritchard of the Royal Australian Air Force presented the remembrance address.

Both men said Anzac Day is a time of reflection and remembrance.

“Some people say Anzac Day glorifies war, but any veteran would tell you that they never want to see war happen again,” Mr Pritchard said.

“It is a time to reflect on our freedom, and recognise those who have defended our freedoms.”

Veterans and members of the community made their way into the RSL after the service for breakfast and a beverage.
Written by Warren Thomson, Blacktown Sun


Seven Hills RSL Youth Club plan pre-Anzac march for youths

The sacrifices of the Anzac’s are not lost on a group of youths from the Seven Hills RSL Youth Club.

As part of their yearly Anzac ceremonies, the sub-branch will hold a walk from Seven Hills train station to the Best Rd club’s cenotaph on Sunday when more than 200 young people are expected to commemorate the Anzac spirit.

This month, three members of the Seven Hills-Toongabbie-Wentworthville RSL youth club will join a group of 30 participating in an exchange program in New Zealand as part of their Anzac celebrations.

The trip will not just be a chance for them to see the usual tourist sights but also gain insight on the Anzac spirit from a Kiwi perspective.

Young athletes and sub-branch members Tamara Vella-Powell and Georgia Tabone said they were excited about the journey.

“I really want to see how they celebrate the Anzacs and what they do on the day,” 14-year-old Tamara said.

“My great-grandfather and my great-great-grandfather were both Anzacs, so it makes me feel closer to them to learn about what they went through.”

As part of the New Zealand trip the students will be billeted to local families, with their families back home using the walk and the RSL services as a chance to thank the Anzacs.

“All my friends that aren’t going on the tour know about the Anzacs and what they did for us and our country,” 15-year-old Georgia said.

“We always see soldiers and what’s happening overseas on TV and it just makes us so thankful that we have all the freedoms that we do.”

The pre-Anzac Day service will take place on Sunday at 1pm from Boomerang Place to the club.

Written by Maryanne Taouk, Blacktown Advocate

Conscript recalls the turmoil during and after the Vietnam War

PAUL Coffey was 21 when he was conscripted in 1971 to head to the longest 20th century conflict in which Australia participated, the Vietnam War.

The now father of two fought in Vietnam in one of three battalions, each comprising 600 to 700 conscripts and soldiers.

“When we were called up, we were called up out of our everyday lives and thrown into the deep end. We came straight out of that and were thrown into a disciplined world,” Mr Coffey said.

“We were the cream of the crop, the young people. We were fit, healthy, young people who were trained up and changed.”

Mr Coffey was a telecommunications technician when he was forced into the “disciplined world”.

The Seven Hills RSL sub-branch member was deployed in Phuoc Tuy with the main base in the province’s central region, Nui Dat.

Fighting at such a young age meant the young Australian men were strongly reliant on their training.

“It was a fight or flight reaction. You stay there and fight rather than run away from it and that was what the discipline (training) was all about,” Mr Coffey said.

“Your brain was rewired so that it was reactive to violence instead of walking away from it.”

Almost 60,000 Australians served in Vietnam; 521 were killed and more than 3000 were wounded.

“We, the Australians, are the best jungle fighters in the world,’’ Mr Coffey said. “It’s what our enemies, our opponents, have said about us.

“We were well respected by the Vietcong and the Vietnamese Army … they were known to say, ‘we don’t like fighting against the Australian Army’.”

The struggle to identify the enemy made the Vietnam War “horrifying”, Mr Coffey said.

“ The First World War and the Second World War, you knew who you were fighting, but in Vietnam they were ordinary farmers and peasants during the day and then they’re out there playing soldier and causing havoc.”

Mr Coffey said soldiers were mistreated by Australia upon their return home.

“It wasn’t very nice — we weren’t accepted. We were told we didn’t go to war, we were ratified by the Labor government … we were spat at, paint was thrown at us, pigs’ blood. You name it, we got it. There was a lot of anti-war sentiment at that stage.’’

The now 67-year-old battles post-traumatic stress disorder, a product of the war that surfaced and “bit him in the neck” about 15 years after his return home.

However, Mr Coffey said ignorance of what occurred during the Vietnam War no longer existed and the Anzac spirit was alive and well.

“There’s no ignorance of the Anzac spirit anymore. People might not have taken it on board initially but schools are teaching it now and there is awareness of it,” he said.

Mr Coffey plans on meeting fellow Anzacs at the Anzac Day march through the Sydney city for the annual day of remembrance.

Written by Martha Azzi, Blacktown Advocate

Seven Hills-Toongabbie RSL gets youth involved in the Anzac legacy

John Burgess was 20 when he met Helen.

The love-struck pair spent one week together in Sydney before the young soldier shipped out to a RAAF base in Malaysia, where he provided support for Australia’s Vietnam War effort.Two years and 144 letters later, the pair were reunited. A week later they were married.

Their story sounds fitting of a Hollywood romance and, 53 years on, it’s still one Mr Burgess shares with pride.

As the vice president of Seven Hills-Toongabbie RSL sub-branch, he’s also keen to see such stories passed on to future generations.

This month three members of the RSL youth club will join a group of 30 doing an exchange program in New Zealand.

The trip will not just be a chance for them to see the usual tourist sights, but also gain unique insight on the Anzac spirit from a Kiwi perspective.

Young athletes Daniel Taylor, Jason Mangion and Kaitlyn Waye said they are excited for the journey.

“I’m looking forward to the experiences we’ll be able to bring home and the stories we can share,” Kaitlyn, 14, said.

The youth club hosts a special service before Anzac Day each year to honour those who sacrificed for Australia. This year they expect 200 members to take part.

Sub-branch trustee Gordon Graham said he is happy to see the club’s youngest members getting involved in preserving the Anzac legacy.

Though the WWII veteran turned 90 today, he still takes part in the march every year.

“I’m the last bloke in NSW that marches with the HMAS Australia landing ship infantry. The rest are all the kids grown up with their dad’s medals,” Mr Graham said.

“I’ll march until I die. I’ll keep it going.”

Mr Graham said he has a second family at Seven Hills-Toongabbie RSL sub-branch, as well as with the relatives of the men he served alongside.

Both groups give him an opportunity to speak honestly about the past, although he prefers to focus on good memories.

“You think of the happy things, not the bad things,” he said.

“You only think of the funny things. I’ve been an alcoholic three times, cured three times.”

The veterans, who both speak in schools around the area, said it was good to see the next generation still learning about the Anzac legacy and holding their own services.

“They’re teaching them properly,” Mr Graham said. “They do a bloody good job.”

The pre-Anzac Day service will take place at 1pm on Sunday, April 23. Seven Hills-Toongabbie-Wentworthville RSL sub-branch members will walk from Seven Hills train station to the club cenotaph at 108 Best Road.

Written by Harrison Vesey, Blacktown Sun

International Women’s Day – Q&A with Annie Moore

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Seven Hills RSL has taken this opportunity to interview Annie Moore, the first female director on our Board in 17 years.

Tell us a little bit about yourself…
I was born in Valletta Malta and came to Australia with my parents on a big ship that took us about 3 months to arrive in Australia. Starting school and not being able to speak English was hard but mum said within a week I had it down pat. My parents worked very hard doing night and afternoon shifts to save and buy a house and live the Australian dream and so they bought their first house in Blacktown and have lived there ever since.
When I left school at the young age of 15 I had no clue what I was going to do with my life, that’s just what you did back then. My parents didn’t understand the importance of going on to get your higher school certificate to go through to University so I enrolled myself into a Stenography course and learnt how to type. I was quite determined I was not going to work in a factory like so many migrants did back then so my journey of learning began. I started with a company called David Holdings back in the 70’s in their mail room I then transferred to various departments learning and absorbing whatever I could to better myself in all aspects of administration.
I then married and moved to Qld, had 2 children and had a variety of jobs which included working in the Financial Planning Industry. After many years, I returned to Sydney and started working in the Banking Sector followed by Real Estate which was my passion and now I work full-time with an International Shipping Company, back where it all started, in fact in the same road where I got my first job in Blacktown!

How long have you been a Member of Seven Hills RSL?

I joined Seven Hills RSL in 2002 after going there a few times with my mum who loves the whole club environment and bingo. I thought this is a great place to meet people and make new friends and that’s what I did. I got to meet so many lovely people and one of them is our current Snr. Vice President Graham Black who introduced me to many more lovely people.

What motivated you to join the Seven Hills RSL Board?
The truth is, I had a dream one night that I was going to try and run for a position on the Board and I just happened to mention this to Graham and his wife Bev and they both said why not. So I thought ok you can do this although at that point I really didn’t understand what I needed to know but I knew I had to give it a shot. And so, my campaign began. I had to put it out there that I needed the help of the members. I walked and talked to everyone and anyone who would listen. I literally asked people if they would help support me and help me get on the Board and truly I was amazed at the support I received.

How long have you been a Director at Seven Hills RSL?
In 2008 my dream turned into a reality and I became the first female back on the Board of Seven Hills RSL in 17 years. Over the next 12 months I read everything and anything to help me learn. I attended many courses, training events, seminars and anything that would advance my knowledge of the Club Industry. Understanding the By-Laws and the Constitution wasn’t easy but I just kept reading. The Clubs NSW Magazine was a great industry source, it has so much information and is a great tool for any new Director.

You are the only female on our Board of Directors. How important is diversity on Boards?
Being the only female on the Board is very important to me, I hold my position with great pride. I make a point on addressing the members by name and making them feel special. I hold in high respect all my fellow Directors who I have now had the pleasure of working with for the past 8 years with a further 2 years to follow, so I’m very honoured that 2018 will be my 10th year as a Director. I think I bring diversity into the Board Room. I hear things and see things in a way men may not. I feel comfortable discussing female issues were as things can and may be overlooked by the men if they are on a personal nature. I strongly believe the women of our Club have just as many rights as the men. I believe in equality so I think my presence brings a nice balance.

What advice do you have for young women who are contemplating joining the Board of a registered Club?
My advice to any woman wishing to be part of any Club is to go for it. If it’s a Club you have involvement with make an effort to make friends and get to know the Directors, you would be working with and don’t be afraid to ask for their support. You would be surprised how supportive they are. Don’t be afraid of the old myth that all Board Rooms are just old boys club I do believe those days have passed. I truly believe every Board Room should have a woman working alongside the men.

What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day is a day women can show their strengths and their achievements. We have come a long way from days when women could not walk into a male dominated pub or any club without being scorned at. We can now enter any venue and mix with the men. With more women in Boardrooms, greater equality in legislative rights and an increased mass of women’s visibility we can now show we are role models too. Women like myself can work and have a family and contribute to the community. But what most stands out for me is women have choices, real choices, and so each year the world inspires women from all walks of life to take risks and make a difference.

Who are your female icons?
I would have to say that Oprah Winfrey. She was born into poverty to a single, black, teenage mother in Mississippi and then went on to be the successful woman she is today. Through all her struggles she proved to the world you can do anything.

Club donates $100,000 to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead

Doctors at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead are using monitoring technology in a bid to work out what triggers seizures in patients.

Board members of Seven Hills Toongabbie RSL Club helped the cause by donating equipment valued at almost $100,000 to the epilepsy monitoring unit at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead.

The donated equipment included a 256-channel Neuvo SEEG recording system, a 32-channel Grael EEG system and a Siesta ambulatory system.

“The equipment has been undergoing testing after installation and is now being used to treat the children of western Sydney who are most vulnerable and have the most severe types of epilepsies,” a Seven Hills Toongabbie RSL Club spokesman said.

Epilepsy is the most common chronic brain disorder worldwide and affects people of all ages.

It is estimated that almost 800,000 people in Australia will be diagnosed with epilepsy at some stage in life, according to Epilepsy Action Australia.

“The early diagnosis of epilepsy allows the correct treatment to be instigated,” the spokesman said.

“The cure of epilepsy is transforming for the child, giving them the gift of a future free of epilepsy,” he said.

“We hope this provides a world-class service for children with epilepsy and sleep disorders.”