THE ANZAC centenary is fast approaching and behind the scenes in the Whitsundays a host of preparations are already underway to ensure 2015 is the most memorable year yet.
Airlie Beach RSL sub branch president Terry Brown said this year more than ever was about community involvement, as much because of the present situation as commemorating the past.
“The 75 Squadron just left for the Middle East in the war against ISIS – we live in a world now where it seems to get madder and madder and there’s [still] people doing the best they can to make the world a safer place,” he said.
Mr Brown’s sentiments were echoed by local war veteran Josef Concy who said it was important for the younger generation to engage with the RSL.
“We’re trying to get young people to understand what the RSL is all about – it’s not just a bunch of old guys, it’s to help everybody who’s served,” he said.
As part of that engagement with the wider community and youth, this year’s ANZAC commemorations will start on Friday, April 24 with a World War I inspired art show at the Reef Gateway Hotel.
Tickets to the evening event cost $10 and only 200 are available so Mr Concy urged the community not to wait.
At this year’s Cannonvale ANZAC Day dawn service, the New Zealand national anthem will be sung in English and Maori in addition to Australia’s ‘Advance Australia Fair’.
Airlie Beach RSL sub branch vice president Bill Rose said every effort was also being made to bring something a little different to the Airlie Beach main street parade.
“Weather permitting we’ll have Remembrance poppies dropped over the parade from a Tigermoth and we’re hoping we can get a couple of people dressed as light horsemen,” he said.
Tickets to the art exhibition and cocktail night on April 24 can be bought by phoning Josef Concy on 0419 645 042.