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Anzac Day Ambassadors

By Bev Jordan

Anzac Day Dawn Service

This year’s Castle Hill RSL Sub branch Anzac Day Dawn Service will see four young High School students talk about the Vietnam War to mark the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia’s participation in the conflict.

More than 50,000 Australians served in Vietnam. Figures from the AWM show that 520 died as a result of war and almost 2,400 were wounded.

Year 11 students nominated by nine High Schools in the Hills were interviewed for the Hills Anzac Ambassadors roles. The four selected by the panel are: Aryan Roy from Oakhill College, Heidi Wilkinson from Castle Hill High, Damon Buchanan from Marian Catholic College and Gemma Oaklands from Northholm Grammar. The program, sponsored by Castle Hill RSL Sub-branch, was started in 2015. Over the past eight years there have been 32 ambassadors.

President of Castle Hill RSL Sub-branch David Hand said it was an amazing program that added young voices to remembrance services.

“The program continues to bring out the best in the students. The sub-Branch members enjoy sharing their stories with the ambassadors and they support the continuation of the program into the future,” he said.

Elizabeth Rodd who was an ANZAC Ambassador in 2019 and is a mentor said: ”To me, the program represents an intergenerational promise of remembrance.

“As an ambassador, you get the opportunity to meet people with such incredible stories from a time of which young people have no concept.

Anzac Day Group 2023 Bryan David Damon Aryan Heidi Gemma Cheryl And Elizab Anzac Day Ambassadors
Bryan mullan (program co-ordinator), david hand (president sub-branch), damon buchanan, aryan roy, heidi wilkinson, maria oaklands, cheryl hill (vp sub-branch) and elizabeth rodd (former ambassador).

These stories truly stick with you and can be quiet perspective-altering. My absolute favourite part of being a mentor is getting to see the faces of veterans as they tell their stories to the ambassadors. It’s such a simple thing to do – just listen – but so often in these times it is a forgotten skill. For the veterans, as the ambassadors listen and engage with their stories, I see that promise light up their faces: a promise that all they endured is important and will be remembered.”

Retired Colonel Don Tait who served in the 12th Field Regiment Royal Australian Artillery in Vietnam during 35 years of Defence Force service said: “ The Ambassador program has been a huge success, with both the students and the public benefiting from it.

“They do themselves, their families, and schools proud at each commemoration service. Australia is in good hands with young people of the calibre of the Ambassadors. I encourage the community of the Hills to come to the ANZAC Dawn Service to listen to the Ambassadors’ presentations.”

This year’s Hills Dawn Service is on Tuesday April 25th at the Centenary of ANZAC Reserve on Wright’s Road (opposite Kellyville Village shopping centre).

People are encouraged to get to the Reserve by 5.45am at the latest. The ceremony starts at 6am. There were an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 people at last year’s ceremony, this year a much larger crowd is expected.

Bev Jordan

Bev Jordan studied journalism at Harlow College in the UK.  She achieves a Diploma in Journalism from the National Council for the Training of Journalists. After migrating to Australia at the end of 1984, she took up a Senior Journalist position with Cumberland Newspapers, based on the Parramatta Advertiser. She has since worked on the Daily Telegraph, Sydney Morning Herald and was a lecturer in Journalism at Macleay College in Sydney. Bev returned to Cumberland Newspapers (NewsLocal) and worked for 30 years covering all different mastheads, including Mosman Daily, Mount Druitt Standard and finally Hills Shire Times for the last 17 of those years. Bev’s passion has always been local community journalism.  She says “As a journalist, I have always seen it as my job to inform, inspire and involve.  I am a passionate advocate for organisations and people making a difference to the world around them. Connectedness is so important to the health of an individual but also to a community, no matter how small or large.

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