HQ1ATF Association REUNION 2012
2012 Reunion Report
MERIMBULA, SOUTH COAST, NEW SOUTH WALES: 8/12 NOVEMBER
On Thursday 8 November 2012, 80 Veterans and 70 partners, checked in at the Merimbula Beach Holiday Park for what was to be the "best ever" reunion of HQ1ATF Association - well, according to most of the people present. The objectives of the reunion were as follows:
1. Communication and engagement of members, partners and carers.
2. Improving information relating to retirement health and well-being.
3. Reducing social isolation.
After check-in, and the obligatory purchase of merchandise (in addition to the free Polo shirt, Giggle hat, Rat Bag and Stubby Holder, all 150 people received a special bottle of HQ1ATF Reunion Beer. Another 250 bottles were sold within two hours - a lesson we have learnt for the 2014 event!
The weather was stunning and stayed sunny throughout the five days, albeit a little cool in the evenings and early mornings. Perfect weather for wine and there was plenty for sale at $10 per bottle - most having been donated by Briar Ridge and McWilliams.
A roast dinner to start off the proceedings before retiring to an early evening for most. Many Veterans had not seen each other for two years and as about 20 Vets were coming along for their first reunion, the time lag could have been longer than 40 years.
On Friday 9 November we met for our biannual meeting which as in other years, lasted some 20 minutes. Much however was accomplished in this time. Treasurer Helen gave an overview of our accounts and the end result was a profit of some $20,000 (a good start for our 2014 event). Two reasons for this profit: (1) Rod Barrett who co-ordinated the WA reunion in 2010 handed us some $10,000 at that time, and (2) sponsors forked out some $24,000. This is the reason why the reunion costs were $120 per person whereas the actual cost per person was about $270. Thank goodness for friendly companies still around in OZ. In addition some 10 Vets gave donations when paying their fees for this reunion.
We voted on the destination for our November 2014 event and all agreed with Brian Harper's proposition that Launceston (Tasmania) would be the venue - or a small town just outside the city called Hadspen. It was noted that any Vets bringing their car/caravan would cost them some $1500 on the boat from Melbourne however Brian will be chatting to the vessel's owners to try for a discount. Air tickets can be bought 11 months prior to the event to obtain the cheapest prices of some $70 each way - so diarize early December 2013 now to get in.
Finally we discussed the Patron issue of our HQ1ATF Association. Dr. Mike Kelly AM. and formerly MP, and Parliamentary Secretary for Defence and a Veteran of Timor, Lebanon and Kenya - (see his biog elsewhere in the website) - agreed readily to become our Patron. He joined our Commemorative Dinner on Sunday 11 November and 99% present felt we have made a good choice of Patron.
We then viewed some memorabilia which some of the members had brought along - funny that we all looked 45 +/- years younger! There were some moving moments in our "Orderly" room for an hour or so.
The coaches came along and off we all went to Tathra and Mimosa Winery - the latter for a great lunch - and a look along the coast of Southern New South Wales. Then back to our Holiday Park, for a wash, quick drink! or two, and the coaches were standing by to take us down to the Merimbula RSL where a private room was laid on for our dinner and, suitable entertainment by Steve Mahoney, a Vet living in Eden (down the road) and who spent time in SVN with 2nd Advanced Ordnance Depot - we have made him an honorary member of HQ1ATF Association. Treasurer Helen also read an essay, given to us by Doug Lawrence, and initially composed by a 14 YO girl, who had won a competition, subsequently read out by her at a Vietnam Veteran's Day 2011 Service. Helen's recitation of the essay is available on our website: www.hq1atf.org
Saturday 10 November was a free day with the choice of an optional tour by boat to see the whales on their migration down to Antarctica - and see them the 40 people did, whales by the dozens. A few - read that 20 - hardy souls played golf and the remainder of our 150 strong group assisted the financial income of the Merimbula shops, played some machines at the clubs, or simply relaxed at the Holiday Park, a drink in hand and watching the waves. That evening we had our "bi-annual" BBQ at the Holiday Park - steak and snags - with entertainment by "Wright to Rhythm" students, (a family of three) from Lumen Christi College entertaining us - were they good or what! Fantastic is what our group all thought.
The next day was a solemn occasion with it being Remembrance Day. Tony Tossaint, Secretary of the Merimbula Sub-Branch of the RSL organized all for us - from the March, 40 Band members, six horses and some of their own Sub-Branch members marching with us. The roads were closed off by the local police and our 400 metre March to the Cenotaph was a sight to see with at least 500 local people and tourists watching - many with small HQ1ATF Flags which the local Chamber of Commerce had prepared. We had earlier been given 150 of them for our use. The local newspaper had promoted the event which showed, by the people cheering us on. A lovely ceremony with the highlight being two grade six students from the local school giving the address.
We had lunch at the RSL followed by an afternoon at leisure and then being collected at 6 PM by our coaches for the short drive to Oaklands Events Centre and our Commemorative Dinner - sponsored by DVA, Merimbula Airport and the NSW Government. We heard Mike Kelly speak; I handed out some awards and Certificates of Appreciation to local businesses in return for their sponsorship, and then the mega raffle with some great prizes, including the Long Tan history on a picture - won of course by Doug Lawrence. Andy O'Donnell entertained us and the room went very quiet with his excellent rendition of "I was only 19" - a few tears and well regarded by all.
Remembrance Day 2012 - Merimbula Reunion
We paid our respects to our eleven fallen comrades during the years, 1966 thru 1971. Also to be remembered was Major General Cedric Maudsley Ingram "Sandy" Pearson, AO, DSO, OBE, MC (24 August 1918 - 7 November 2012). On behalf of the Association I attended his funeral in Sydney held at Newington College, on the morning of Thursday 15 November.
The next morning we had our Gunfire breakfast - would you believe it that no person actually drank any Bundi! Then off to our various homes around Australia. A great Reunion and many letters, emails, SMS's and phone calls have come our way.
I want to thank my lovely wife, Helen, who kept me somewhat sane throughout this two year journey, and has also worked hard by my side. It's now time for our vacation - France beckons.