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ANZAC Day 2021

Published on Tuesday, 4 May 2021 at 11:40:30 AM

On the morning of the 25 April 2021, the community came together at the Merredin Cenotaph for a very special ANZAC Day service. Though COVID-19 restrictions came into place in the Perth and Peel regions before the long weekend and many ANZAC Day services had to be cancelled, Merredin was unaffected by the lockdown which allowed the ANZAC working group to go ahead with the event.

At 5.45am, a proud parade procession marched its way down Barrack Street from the post office down to the Cenotaph where an array of black soldier silhouettes and white crosses stood. Veterans,community members, and other important guests gathered at this central point in front of the cenotaph waiting for the dawn service to commence at 6.00am.

Cummins Theatre Manager Justin Freind set up a livestream for those in the community who were unable to attend in person. People from all over Australia, including previous Officer in Charge at Merredin Police Station, Senior Sergeant Mark Tobiassen, tuned in to the livestream, which had a total of more than 800 views, reaching as far as Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand.

Deputy Shire President Mal Willis was the speaker for the morning, and at two minutes past six he took his post at the lectern, just as he had done 12 months prior during COVID-19 lockdown. The atmosphere had a noticeably different feel – the eery silence heard last year had turned to eager foot steps and chatty voices as the crowds built up around him.

Councillor Willis welcomed the veterans and extended gratitude to them, as well as the community members and thanked everyone for their attendance, before beginning his speech.

“We gather here at this early hour on this day every year, to honour the memory of those gallant men and women who willingly sacrificed and risked their lives in the fight for safety and freedom for their beloved homelands of Australia and New Zealand.”

The service continued with Pastor Lomani Tiesa Uilou leading the Lord’s Prayer before representatives from local organisations came forward to lay wreathes including WWII Veterans, Wheatbelt Vietnam Veterans, Hon. Melissa Price, Hon. Mia Davies, Shire of Merredin, Merredin Police, Njaki Njaki, WA Country Health Service Merredin Hospital, St Johns Ambulance (Merredin Subbranch), Merredin Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, Merredin Churches Fraternal, Merredin College, St Mary’s  School, Military Museum, Military Cadets and the Wheatbelt Driving School. Other members of the community also came forward to lay their own wreathes.

Councillor Willis then invited Veteran Aubrey Tompkin to the lectern to read the Ode, which was then followed by The Last Post, One Minute’s Silence, and Reveille. Local singer Jade Healy – Ratima sung both the Australian and New Zealand National Anthems before the service concluded with attendees welcomed back to Cummins Theatre for a ‘gunfire’ breakfast.

Another service was held later in the day at 11.00am at Cummins Theatre. The proceedings mimicked those of the dawn service, with the addition of guest speaker Acting Sergeant Tyler Winter from Merredin Police stepping in for  Acting Inspector Heath Soutar who was absent due to the COVID-19 restrictions.

Hymns, songs and the national anthems were then performed by A Choired Taste.

The Shire would like to thank the following sponsors for their contributions towards ANZAC Day including Collgar Wind Farm, Lotterywest, and Merredin IGA.

A special thank you is extended also to the ANZAC Day working party – Aubrey Tompkin, Mal Willis, Rob Endersbee, and Su Riley, and to Brad Atkinson at Desert Eagle Helicopters for doing a fly over during the Mid-Morning service.


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