Western Suburbs Weekly - - Front Page - Denise S. Cahill

IT has been more than 20 years since Pat Web­s­dale vis­ited Rottnest Is­land.

But on April 25 – Anzac Day – Ms Web­s­dale will travel to the is­land with her chil­dren and grand­chil­dren to hon­our Pri­vate Paul Hansen, her part­ner of 38 years, who died last year.

Pte Hansen had been at­tend­ing the Rottnest Is­land Anzac Day ser­vice since 2008, rep­re­sent­ing indige­nous ex-ser­vice­men and women.

The Rottnest Is­land cer­e­mony is be­lieved to be the only one that of­fi­cially recog­nises indige­nous ex-ser­vice­men and women.

“It meant ev­ery­thing to him,” Ms Web­s­dale said. “2015 was his last… he passed away last year.”

Pte Hansen served in Viet­nam be­tween 1970 and 1972 start­ing as a ri­fle­man be­fore be­com­ing a for­ward scout and fin­ish­ing his ser­vice on the ma­chine guns.

“Paul and I were teenage lovers then we went our sep­a­rate ways and re­con­nected in 1979 and were to­gether ever since,” Ms Web­s­dale said.

While she did not at­tend a Rottnest Is­land ser­vice with Pte Hansen, his fam­ily ac­com­pa­nied him to a Kings Park ser­vice dur­ing Na­tional Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Week each year.

On April 25, Pte Hansen’s grand­chil­dren will be wear­ing minia­ture Viet­nam ser­vice medals he made them.

His grand­chil­dren will join stu­dents from Rottnest Is­land Pri­mary School – an An­nex of Beaconsfield PS – in­clud­ing Chathumi Abe­yaratne (9) and Noah Mclaugh­lin (6) who will be lay­ing wreaths at the ser­vice.

Rottnest Is­land Author­ity chief ex­ec­u­tive Michelle Reynolds, who will at­tend the is­land ser­vice for the first time, said she was look­ing for­ward to watch­ing the sun come up and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the mov­ing and pro­found ser­vice.

“The beauty of the is­land is it has so much his­tory and you don’t have to look very far for it,” she said.

Pic­ture: An­drew Ritchie­mu­ni­ d467942

Chathumi Abe­yaratne (9), Pat Web­s­dale and Noah Mclaugh­lin (6).

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