SUR­PRISE LIFE MEM­BER­SHIP AN­NOUNCE­MENT

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - Callum Hunter

Mil­i­tary dis­play cu­ra­tor Gerry Tyrrell thought it was a hoax when he was told he was be­ing made a life mem­ber of the Re­turned and Services League of Aus­tralia.

“I got a let­ter in the mail and I thought, ‘there’s a cam­era watch­ing me some­where’,” he said.

“I had to wait un­til the of­fice opened to ring John (Gelmi) and say, ‘John I’ve got a let­ter here,’ and he said ‘yeah I know’ – I was ab­so­lutely stunned.”

Hav­ing spent 22 years in the Army Re­serve and 33 years in the WA Po­lice force, Gerry re­tired in 2007 and turned his at­ten­tion to help­ing run and main­tain the RSL Mu­seum at Dar­danup Her­itage Park, where he is now the mu­seum cu­ra­tor.

His 33-year stint in the po­lice force was orig­i­nally planned to be just two years be­fore go­ing back to roof car­pen­try, but he be­came “tied up in the job help­ing peo­ple, liv­ing on the edge”.

Dur­ing his time in the po­lice, Gerry trav­elled to Merredin as part of the po­lice mo­tor­cy­cle stunt team for a dis­play where he was signed up to the Army Re­serve by an­other of­fi­cer al­ready serv­ing.

“Through be­ing in the army re­serves for 22 years, a lot of it crossed over into my po­lice work,” he said.

“I’ve al­ways been a mil­i­tary buff, it’s al­ways been my pas­sion.

Gerry is a mem­ber of the Leschenault Men’s Shed and is there ev­ery Mon­day, Tues­day and Fri­day, where he is able to make things for the mil­i­tary dis­play us­ing the ma­chin­ery and en­joy hang­ing out with the other mem­bers.

On Wednes­day and Sun­day he can be found at Her­itage Park tin­ker­ing and work­ing, with the main­te­nance of his­tory his key drive.

“Talk­ing to the pub­lic is what I en­joy the most.

“It’s re­ally spe­cial see­ing the faces of kids and then look­ing back at the par­ents and see­ing the ex­cite­ment on their faces – it’s why I spend the hours driv­ing out there ev­ery month, all the hours there restor­ing, writ­ing let­ters to ob­tain items – it’s all worth it.”

“I do what I do now be­cause on An­zac Day, how many World War II vets are left? “There’s not many. “The Viet­namers are now in their 70s.

“If we don’t save the his­tory and pass it on, it’s gone.”

Gerry was pre­sented with the life mem­ber­ship by the na­tional and State RSL pres­i­dents at Gov­ern­ment house in May and can still hardly be­lieve it.

“This just came out of left field – I still don’t be­lieve it,” he said.

De­spite stand­ing at six-foot-seven, Gerry has al­ways tried to keep a low pro­file and stay out of the lime­light and said it was nice to be recog­nised, but the rea­son for his work and com­mit­ment was to save the me­mory and pass on the his­tory to to­day’s kids.

Pic­ture: Jon Gell­weiler

Gerry Tyrell has been made a life mem­ber of the Re­turned and Services League of Aus­tralia.

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