As 2021 comes to an end and we get ready to celebrate Christmas and welcome in the New Year, I wanted to reflect on all that has happened at the Cairns RSL Sub Branch this year.
Our Advocates Phil and Gerry have been working tirelessly all year to help Veterans with their DVA Claims, between them they have had 409 advocacy appointments, and they are already booked until February 2022.
Our Wellbeing Support Officers have been busy visiting Veterans in the Private and Public hospital, we have volunteers who visit the hospitals 4 out of 5 days a week. Our volunteers also visit nursing homes every week and also visit Veterans in their homes to help with every day tasks when needed.
Our volunteers, Spike and Stan have attended and performed approximately 20 Requiems and Poppy Services this year at the request of Veterans families.
The Kokoda Hall Museum Volunteers have been doing upgrades on the Museum, reorganising and cataloguing all the memorabilia and historical items, as well as doing school and group tours, and holding functions in the Museum.
Our volunteers Mal, Hayden and Carol work tireless on keeping the Sub Branch Merchandise up to date, as well as manning a stall at the Tanks Markets monthly.
The Cairns RLS Sub Branch Pipes and Drums play on the first Thursday of every month at the Cenotaph on the Esplanade, they have also played at all the Sub Branches Commemorative Services as well as the ‘Thank you for your Service’ Gala Dinner.
The Cairns RSL Sub Branch Team and Volunteers have been busy all year organising Commemorative Day Services and events for its members and families and Serving and Ex Serving Veterans.
In March, we held the Annual Cairns RSL Sub Branch International Women’s Day High Tea, which was a sold out event at the Pullmans hotel, our Guest Speaker Sarah Turner was an inspiration, and a wonderful morning was had by all. March also saw the Sub Branch assist with the Commemorative Service to celebrate the RAAF 100th Anniversary.
In April, the Cairns RSL Sub Branch ANZAC day Dawn Service, March and Commemorative Day Service was held, with COVID restrictions and the bad weather we managed to bring it together to have a successful day with the help of the Sub Branch Staff, Council and volunteers.
May saw our first Volunteer Forum of the year, with invaluable feedback received . We also held our Cairns Veterans Business Network (CVBN) event at the Boardwalk Social, this was our first CVBN event bringing together Veterans Owned and Operated Businesses, over the year our CVBN has grown dramatically to now having 32 Veteran owned and operated members.
In June, we farewelled Peter Hayton as Sub Branch President and welcomed a new Cairns RSL Sub Branch President Jeffrey (Blu) Langham.
July was a big month at the Sub Branch with Gillian deciding to return to active duty in the Navy and Lucy coming on board as the New Admin and Volunteer Coordinator, and just as things seem to be getting back to normal, Bec decided to except a new challenge with Legacy and left the Sub Branch, thank goodness Simone was able to jump on board and help the Branch out. July was the start of our monthly ‘Kick Start Your Day’ Breakfasts that have grown in popularity and will continue monthly in 2022.
Unfortunately, in August we saw the return of the COVID lockdowns and restrictions which unfortunately meant that our Vietnam Veterans Day Service had to cancelled.
Our Peacekeeper/Peacemaker event was held in September at Skypark and was a great afternoon of Burgers and Bungee jumping, fun was had by all especially our younger veterans who spent the afternoon bungee jumping or going on the bungee swing. We also ran the BBQ at the Defence Member and Family Support Fathers Day Extravaganza.
Veterans Health Week was held in October and what a big month it was, we held an introduction to Scuba Diving Course, a Painting Party, and a Wellness Challenge at Fogarty Park which over 80 people attended. We also welcomed Gerry to the team.
November saw our 2nd Annual ‘Thank you for your Service’ Gala Dinner being held which was a sold out event, it was a great night with an amazing guest speaker and extremely funny MC, great food and great entertainment. Followed by our Remembrance Day Commemorative Service held on 11 November. For the first time we partnered with Legacy, the Cairns Defence Community Support Group and Defence Member and Family Support to hold a kids Christmas Party at Inflatable Kingdom.
What a month December has been. We held our Quarterly Cairns Veterans Business Network Event in the Kokoda Hall Museum. Our Volunteers Christmas party. All our Volunteers were on the nice list so Santa decided to drop in and say hi. And last Sunday was our Christmas ‘Kick Start Your Day’ Breakfast, it was so wonderful to see everyone in their Christmas Shirts with lots of Christmas cheer. Our Final Event for the year is ‘Meet with the Board’ on this Friday night 17 December in the RSL Club Sports Bar.
The Cairns RSL Sub Branch Team would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year. We are so excited to see you all in 2022.