Speaking at Woonona Bulli RSL sub-Branch’s centenary celebration was a “massive honour” for Australian War Memorial curator Craig Blanch.
Mr Blanch, who was born and bred in the Illawarra’s northern suburbs, was the keynote speaker at Sunday’s event, which attracted 180 people, including current and former personnel.
“It is incredibly important,” he told the Mercury.
“Working at the memorial, we obviously remember those who died in war but with institutions such as the RSL clubs, these people have dedicated their lives to the living and for over a century this sub branch has done just that.
“It is incredibly important for those veterans who have returned and the broader community.
“I’m honoured to be here and speak about this wonderful branch.
“My father courted my mother in the school of arts just at the top of the hill, which for quite a period of time was the rooms used for the Woonona Bulli RSL sub-Branch.
“I went to the high school at the end of the street here. I was born and bred here and most of my good traits come from here.”
Woonona Bulli RSL sub-Branch president Michael Paris said the organisation had changed a lot over the years but its importance to the community was as strong as ever.
These people have dedicated their lives to the living and for over a century this sub branch has done just that.Australian War Memorial curator Craig Blanch
Those who attended the centenary celebrations enjoyed checking out the impressive memorabilia display capturing pivotal moments in the organisation’s history at Woonona Bulli RSL.
“The most important display is a flag, which is 100 years old,” Mr Paris said.
“That is the most important artefact we have at the moment. It was signed by World War I diggers when they returned from the war and they were greeted by a lady by the name of Catherine Herring at Bulli Railway station.
“There is 114 signatures on that flag, which was flown by the Merchant Navy and is referred to as the Red Duster.”
Woonona Bulli RSL board chairperson Cath Filan praised the work of the sub-Branch.
“Subsequent executives have served this community very well and enriched the fabric of the community and the veterans and their families,” she said.
“I would really like to thank all of the people who have contributed over the centenary for the well being of our veterans and their families.”