14th Annual Spirit of ANZAC Award Winners

The Spirit of Anzac Awards are the highest honour at the RSL & Services Clubs Association. Thank you to Thomson Geer for their ongoing support of the Awards. The Spirit of Anzac Awards recognised two categories at the gala dinner:

  • The Spirit of Anzac Award recognises a club that has made an outstanding contribution throughout the year to its members and the local community which epitomises the sacrifices of those who served in the defence of the nation and in the traditions of the ANZACs – courage, endurance, initiative, discipline, and mateship – values on which our RSL and services clubs were founded.

Special mention also to Dubbo RSL Memorial Club and Penrith RSL for their nominations.

Dubbo RSL Memorial Club prides itself on community engagement and supporting the local community. During COVID, the Club worked with Central West Laverty Pathology to use the Club carpark as a testing facility for the local and surrounding community. Thousands of people have utilised this facility and are still today being tested at the site. The key objective for this support was to promote early detection in the community, to support and encourage the Dubbo and surrounding community to get tested and to support culturally appropriate options for vulnerable people.

The Dubbo RSL Memorial Club also responded to the needs of the community affected by the drought. The Club partnered with Lion Beer Australia (LionCo) where $1 from every schooner sold from the Club’s Sports and Casino Bars of Lion branded product was donated to the Rural Financial Counselling Service. Over the two month period, $20,000 was raised. The Dubbo Memorial Club also donated 40 x $500 EFTPOS cards to farming families to assist with food and fuel purchases and paying utilities. The Club also held a fundraising concert to increase awareness of their fundraising efforts and raised a further $1000 for drought relief.

Penrith RSL Club’s award submission highlighted their Penrith to Pilliga Drought Relief Program. This program was an initiative of the Penrith RSL to provide assistance to the Pilliga community in NSW who had been experiencing drought conditions for the past three years. The Club set a goal of $50,000 to help give the community immediate relief by supplying pre-paid Visa cards to assist with the payment of utilities, groceries, equipment and other items.

The Club conducted a major raffle, placed collections tins around the venue, contacted suppliers to donate goods, services or monies, staff donated each week from their wage, members donated their loyalty points and Penrith RSL made a major contribution to the cause. Ultimately, 400 x $50 in pre paid Visa cards were sent to the Pilliga community. Members of the Penrith RSL also contributed to the “Pilliga Shoebox Surprise” where members were asked to fill a shoebox with special gifts. Over 120 shoeboxes were collected and distributed by Penrith RSL Chariman, Frank Portelli.

Spirit of ANZAC Award Highly Commended – Bathurst RSL

Bathurst RSL was recognised with a High Commended award. The Club recognised the need to provide connection and support for the community during COVID and hosted the Sub-branch Friday Coffee mornings where over 40 veterans meet to enjoy coffee and a chat. The club has worked closely with the Sub-branch to design activities to engage younger veterans and their families including supporting the Barefoot Bowls Family Fun Day and providing space for the “Open Arms” Veterans and Families Counselling Service.

The Club further supports returned service men and women with their support of Defence Community Dogs which improves the lives of Veterans by providing Assistance Dogs trained to support veterans suffering from medical conditions, including PTSD. The Clubs focus on connecting with the Sub-branch continued with their free breakfast for all former and serving defence force personnel and their families on ANZAC Day 2021.

The Club also worked closely with the Sub-branch offering administrative and marketing support for the Memorial Walk Museum Walk. The Club also continues to review and revitalise their Respect the Day campaign each year and in 2020 also honoured their last two remaining WWII veterans with a window display and internal TV presentation and ran a full page advertisement in the Western Advocate to honour these two men – Dick Crossing and Alex Bedwell.

Bathurst RSL also supports Legacy with the provision of prizes for their ANZAC Day Raffle and Club vouchers for their annual Golf Day. The Club further sought to support Members and the community who were struggling during COVID and donated 50 cents from every coffee sold at The Grind to Lifeline on World Mental Health Day. Bathurst RSL also increased their support of Veritas House, who they have supported for many years. The Club initially donated $3,000 in August 2020 for emergency funding for disadvantaged families and at-risk youths and then an additional $5,000 prior to the Christmas period to brighten their Christmas and provide practical support.

Spirit of ANZAC Award Winner – Gosford RSL

Congratulations to Gosford RSL as the winners of the Spirit of Anzac Awards. Gosford RSL honours Australian service personnel each year, raising funds and assisting with the Dawn Service, the Anzac Day breakfast which serves 700 members, veterans, service personnel, cadets and KYLC trekkers, plus the Anzac March and the Annual Remembrance Day Services. Gosford RSL was a major sponsor of Coast Opera Australia’s “Salute to the ANZACS” in 2021. The Club also has an extensive display of war memorabilia in the museum located in the Club foyer and is a Gold Sponsor of the Last Post ceremony held at the Australian War Memorial each day.

Gosford RSL is also a long standing supporter of Coast Shelter (that provides accommodation and meals) and Soul Soup since 2019. The Club invited the community to assist with donations during COVID lockdowns, enabling the club to help four community groups, Coast Shelter, Soup Soup, Marys Mac’s Place and Central Coast Disaster Relief with a total of 1,000 meals per WEEK provided to the community.

In addition to their support of the local community through ClubGrants (supporting over 30 local associations, sporting groups and community initiatives), Gosford RSL holds annual raffles to assist local communities effected by natural disasters. During COVID lockdowns, the Club supported their elderly members with regular calls and offer of assistance. Other significant contributions to the community include: care packages for troops overseas, an annual free Seniors Information Day, encouraging staff to donate blood, supporting the Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge, and MAX Potential leadership program.

  • The Outstanding Community Member Award recognises a community ‘volunteer’, including a Director, Patron, Sub-Branch Committee Member, Staff Member or Club Member, who has demonstrated outstanding loyalty and service towards their club and/or the local community.

Outstanding Community Member Award Highly Commended – Eric Tweedle, Merrylands RSL

(accepted by President, Ron Hand)

Eric Tweedle served as a Signalman in the Royal Australia Navy for four years and has made outstanding contributions to Rugby Union having played for 22 seasons including representing the NSW Waratahs from 1946–1949 and Australian Wallabies from 1946–1949. Eric also assisted in the formation of the Parramatta Junior Rugby Union and was responsible for the formation of Forbes Rugby Club. In addition, through the Eric Tweedale Foundation, Eric has raised significant funds for the Merrylands Junior Rugby Union. Eric has also spent over six years organising Lifeline stores.

Special mention to Ronald Mervyn Smith (recently deceased), Ex-Director from Castle Hill RSL for their nomination. An electrician by trade, Ronald joined the Royal Australian Navy for an initial 12 year engagement in the Electrical branch and served under the White Ensign for 46 years, retiring as a senior technical instructor. Ron was a dedicated Life Member of the Castle Hill RSL sub-Branch where he served as a President and Secretary and held the positions of Pensions and Welfare Officer and Co-ordinator of events for Life and Veteran Members for 28 years. Ron was formally recognised for his contributions to the community with a Meritorious Service Medal for service to Veterans in 2004 and was awarded an Order of Australia Medal the same year.

Outstanding Community Member Award Winner – Simon Statton, Cabra-Vale Diggers

Simon Statton was a stand out for the Outstanding Community Member Award from Cabra Vale Diggers. Simon has served for 30 years in the Australian Army Service (15 in the regular Army Services and 15 in the Army Reserve) and is currently a serving Major posted to the headquarters of the 2nd Division. In his civilian career, Simon is the Manager of Assets and Infrastructure for the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Simon demonstrates his outstanding loyalty and service to the Cabra-Vale Diggers and the wider community through his tireless volunteer efforts across a number of events including the Cabra-Vale Diggers virtual Remembrance Day film, ANZAC Day films and commemorative events for the Liverpool RSL Sub-branch, Guildford Masonic Lodge, Western Sydney University, Macarthur Bulls Football Club, Al-Faisal College, the Vietnamese community and as a Club representative to raise funds for the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital in Cambodia.

The Awards ceremony was not of the duration or quality that it usually was and on behalf of the Association we apologise for this. In no way did we intend to diminish the importance of the Awards. It will be rectified in future. Margot Smith, Chief Executive Officer