Stirling Times

Comrades come together

- Lucy Jarvis

CAMARADERI­E and understand­ing underpin the support veterans find at North Beach RSL.

As they prepare to host Anzac Day commemorat­ions at Charles Riley Memorial Park, members shared how the organisati­on binds them together.

The North Beach RSL service will start 5.30am on April 25 and pay tribute to the Royal Australian Air Force’s 100th anniversar­y.

In the past the service has been one of the biggest in the metropolit­an area, outside Kings Park, and organisers expected several thousand people to attend this Sunday.

Assistant secretary Wayne Koch, 73, said the sub-branch was one of the biggest in Perth, with about 340 members and a great sense of camaraderi­e.

Mr Koch said he had been part of the RSL for 50 years and valued how it brought together veterans of all ages from various military background­s and conflicts.

“You get a different rub of shoulders,” the Vietnam War veteran said.

Mr Koch said they were active in organising events and working together, and included social activities such as kayaking and coffee meetings which supported

veterans’ wellbeing.

“It’s a good escape for a lot of people who would normally be socially isolated,” he said.

Geoffrey Pope, 95, has been attending RSL subbranch meetings and services since moving to Perth in the mid-1980s.

The WWII stretcher bearer said he enjoyed the fellowship

shared veterans.

His son Andrew said the sub-branch also provided support for veterans, distributi­ng hampers at Christmas and helping them find support services through the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and other organisati­ons.

Website editor Brian Jennings, between

76, said about 140 people attended a recent sub-branch meeting, which showed how welcoming the club was. Mr Jennings started researchin­g and writing profiles about veterans this year to publish on the subbranch’s website.

“I’m trying to get all the World War II stories together before they disappear into the sunset,” he said.

“My grandfathe­r was in World War I and he never spoke about it.

“He got a military medal (but) he told his sons he won it in a raffle.

“It’s really good to see that they have got a place like the RSL where they can go and be comfortabl­e and just be themselves.”

 ?? Picture: David Baylis ?? Peta Connelly, Geoffrey Pope and Wayne Koch at the North Beach Memorial.
Picture: David Baylis Peta Connelly, Geoffrey Pope and Wayne Koch at the North Beach Memorial.

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