Mary help­ing hands

Wangaratta Chronicle - North East Regional Extra - - Front Page - By KYLIE WIL­SON

ACROSS the North East, a ded­i­cated group of com­mu­nity minded peo­ple work tire­lessly to look after the wives or fam­i­lies of de­ceased and in­ca­pac­i­tated ser­vice­men of a range of con­flicts.

Sec­re­tary/trea­surer of the Wan­garatta/ Myrtle­ford/Bright Le­gacy group, Elaine Sewell, said Le­gacy helps meet the needs of just over 200 peo­ple in the re­gion.

Those needs range from trans­port to med­i­cal or le­gal ap­point­ments, to be­ing taken on out­ings, or even just get­ting a phone call or a visit to check up.

She re­called Le­gacy help­ing a large group of wid­ows around 18 months ago, giv­ing them all Aus­tralian made knee rugs in or­der to help them stave off the cold and save money on their en­ergy bills.

“There’s no set pat­tern – we just help where we can,” she said.

Whether it be the oc­ca­sional phone call or chat over af­ter­noon tea, a present at Christ­mas, so­cial gath­er­ings and out­ings, or other help, mem­bers of Le­gacy say they love tak­ing the time to give back to the com­mu­nity.

Cur­rent lo­cal Le­gacy pres­i­dent Bob Hay­ward said that many ser­vices pro­vided by Le­gacy have come full cir­cle, from work­ing with wid­ows and fam­i­lies in its ear­lier days, to look­ing out for el­derly wid­ows.

Wid­ows of Viet­nam veter­ans are also in­volved, and while it is less com­mon be­cause many veter­ans choose to live else­where, Le­gacy some­times helps fam­i­lies in the wake of more re­cent con­flicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bob has been in­volved in Le­gacy for close to 25 years.

“I be­gan in Bourke, NSW and have now served here in Wang nearly 20 years,” he said.

He said mate­ship and com­mu­nity ser­vice is cen­tral to the or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“This ethos was born out of the plea by wounded and dy­ing sol­diers to a fel­low sol­dier to ‘look after me mis­sus and kids’,” he said.

“Our char­ter was sim­ply to do any­thing we hu­manly could to help ease the bur­den of a fam­ily with­out a hus­band and fa­ther.

“Many wid­ows over the years have tes­ti­fied to the help and care ex­er­cised by Le­ga­tees which saw them through a very dif­fi­cult time.

“Many chil­dren have been as­sisted with school­ing, camps and other needs and have gone on to be­come ex­cel­lent role mod­els and highly con­tribut­ing mem­bers of so­ci­ety.

“I per­son­ally be­lieve it also just comes down to friend­ship.

“Many wid­ows may have no im­me­di­ate needs but ev­ery­one loves a visit, a cuppa, and a word of en­cour­age­ment, which we can freely give.”

Wan­garatta woman Betty Law has given many years of ser­vice to Le­gacy, first as part of Le­gacy Ladies, then as a Le­ga­tee her­self, mak­ing her mark as the first fe­male pres­i­dent of the Wan­garatta/Myrtle­ford/Bright Le­gacy group.

“They’ve al­ways been a great lot to work with,” she said of Le­gacy. “I loved be­ing with them.” She has seen many mem­bers of her fam­ily serve, from sev­eral un­cles serv­ing in World War One (one per­ished in Pozieres), and her hus­band in New Guinea in the air force in World War Two.

Her fa­ther en­listed in World War Two, but an in­jury pre­vented him from fight­ing, while her fa­ther-in­law fought in the Somme in World War One.

Mrs Law said she was grate­ful for all the friend­ships she had made over the years, and was also thank­ful for the sup­port Le­gacy has re­ceived from the com­mu­nity, in­clud­ing busi­nesses such as Cul­lens Bus Lines.

Among lo­cals whose in­volve­ment with Le­gacy has come full cir­cle is Wan­garatta res­i­dent Ash­ley Gil­martin.

His fa­ther, Wil­liam (known as Vic­tor) Gil­martin, served in the air force dur­ing World War Two, but passed away in the years fol­low­ing the war, when Ash­ley was still a boy.

He said Le­gacy was an in­valu­able help to his mother Eily and his fam­ily, keep­ing in touch with her and in­volv­ing the chil­dren in Le­gacy camps and reg­u­lar Boys Club meet­ings, as well as pro­vid­ing items such as fire­wood.

Ash­ley got in­volved with Le­gacy’s Wan­garatta/Myrtle­ford/ Bright group about a decade ago.

“I wanted to give a bit back,” he said.

His role in­cludes be­ing a point of con­tact for a num­ber of wid­ows reg­is­tered with the or­gan­i­sa­tion, and he finds ful­fil­ment in that role.

Le­gacy Week, tak­ing place this year be­tween Au­gust 27-Septem­ber 2, is an an­nual ap­peal to raise aware­ness and funds for fam­i­lies of in­ca­pac­i­tated and de­ceased veter­ans.

Badges will be sold at var­i­ous lo­ca­tions through­out the North East, in­clud­ing the Post Of­fice Ar­cade and Bun­nings in Wan­garatta.

Wan­garatta Ladies Le­gacy meets at the Wan­garatta RSL sub-branch on the sec­ond Wed­nes­day of ev­ery month at 1.30pm and more in­for­ma­tion is avail­able from Mar­garet Johns on (03) 5722 1131.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Le­gacy see www.le­

PHOTO: Kylie Wil­son

Le­gacy mem­bers Bob Hay­ward and Elaine Sewell en­joy a friendly chat. GIV­ING BACK:

PHOTO: Kylie Wil­son

YEARS OF EX­PE­RI­ENCE: Betty Law has been in­volved in Le­gacy Ladies and as a Le­ga­tee for many years.

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