Stanley opens Great War memorial rotunda
Parliamentarian Cathy McGowan (MHR, Indi) on Saturday asked Stanley’s people of tomorrow – its children – to honour the Great War service and sacrifice in 1914-18 of 102 young men and women from Stanley and Hurdle Flat. A large number of families in the small farming and timber communities south-east of Beechworth more than 100 years ago made a tremendous commitment to empire – and 23 sons did not return from the vicious conflict that raged in many of the world’s places. Cooper Cook, Gabriel Humphreys, Indi Sheridan, Hannah and Lani Reid and Natalie Vincent from the near 100-strong crowd at a ceremony in Stanley cemetery helped Ms McGowan open a rotunda in which the names of those who served and died are remembered. They were watched by cemetery trust chairman Ron Leary.
PARLIAMENTARIAN Cathy McGowan (MHR, Indi) on Saturday appealed to the future of Stanley – its children – to help her open a village cemetery rotunda in which the service of people from the past can be remembered.
She asked for the youngsters among a near 100-strong crowd in the picturesque, rural graveyard to come forward and join her to cut the ribbon at a memorial to those from Stanley and Hurdle Flat who served in the Great War 1914-18.
The two communities, not far from one another on the rolling plateau beyond Beechworth, gave 102 men and women to the service of empire. Twenty-three did not return. It was salient for Ms McGowan. “People will come to this rotunda and think about those early days and the courage and the energy of our communities – not only in going to fight, but in building memories like this and creating cemeteries like this, and in fighting the fights that this community fights to keep (it) strong, which I know it does,” she said.
“I wanted to say how important it is to know that the Great War just didn’t happen 100 years ago.
“Every single one of us has to be vigilant and pay attention to the virtues of courage, to persistence, to fighting the fight.
“You may not be called to go to (war), but it’s just as important that we do the fighting here in Stanley and Beechworth, as I have to do Canberra.
“Because if we don’t (fight) (then what we want) won’t happen.”
Ms McGowan said Stanley’s was an “engaged community”.
“It’s a place of community involvement, community vision, community getting together to do things – this rotunda, the honour board, the cemetery and all the cars (here today) epitomise that,” she said.
“Then there’s the fire brigade, social group, hall committee, Stanley Plateau Chorus and a huge number of people who have got together to make today possible. “It would not have happened without you. “It’s a community that builds rotundas, that remembers its history and then plans the future, so that our children and grandchildren can actually stand for and be elected a member of parliament.”
Ms McGowan said remembrance of the past and recognition of the challenges ahead made for a community that was “so strong and so engaged and so powerful”.
The rotunda, in which the names of all from Stanley and Hurdle Flat who served in the Great War have been recorded completely for the first time, was built with a $10,400 Anzac centenary community grant from the Victoria’s Premier’s Department, more than $1800 from the Stanley Cemetery Trust and $5000 from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal.
Indigo Shire Council also contributed $500 and Beechworth and District Community Bank gave $1014.
Beechworth Returned and Services league sub-branch president Brendan Honey, who attended the ceremony with John Eldrid, said the rotunda was more than a building.
“As we dedicate this rotunda to the memory of Stanley’s World War I fallen, it is appropriate that we remember the sacrifice made by these 23 and the impact that their loss made not just on their families but on this community as a whole,” he said.
“I believe that memorials such as this are important to community, as they are an ongoing reminder to us of the sacrifice made by these men and our duty to ensure that their names are not forgotten.”
The Stanley Plateau Chorus performed songs from the Great War and Geoffrey Fryer led a poignant rendition of Eric Bogle’s ‘And the band played ‘Waltzing Matilda’’.
Tea and Anzac biscuits were served after the ceremony.
POIGNANT: Geoffrey Fryer sings with Chris Brett, Gina Kromer and other singers of the Stanley Plateau Chorus perform Eric Bogle’s ‘And the band played ‘Waltzing Matilda’’ at the Stanley rotunda ceremony.
SKILLED: Chorus singers Gwen Smith, Carol Brett, Carol Leary and Gaynor Kirkhouse with director Helen McAlpine at the ceremony.
MEMORY: Knitted Flanders’ poppies hang from the rotunda railing in honour of the 102 Stanley and Hurdle Flat men and women who served in the Great War. PHOTOS: Jamie Kronborg