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Anzac difference

IT will be Anzac Day tomorrow, but not as we know it.

Instead of hundreds of people attending commemorations in Portland and Heywood, they are being encouraged to stand in their driveways instead.

There will be music, but not from bands marching at the head of parades. Instead, anyone who can is encouraged to play the Last Post during those driveway commemorations.

There are also other community-driven initiatives to commemorate the day locally, bearing in mind the restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Portland RSL sub-branch has cancelled plans for even a small service closed to the public and veterans, following advice from police.

President John Davis said another idea that had to be canned was spelling out the word Anzac with the crosses of World War I participants at the Memorial Triangle.

“The police said no to that because that could encourage other people to go down there,” he said.

Yet another idea was to drive veterans around the city in old military vehicles, but that was also discarded for the same reason.

Mr Davis encouraged as many people as possible to stand in their driveways at 6am to mark the sacrifice of servicemen and women.

“The driveway is the way to go,” he said.

That is also being encouraged by the Portland Citizens’ Brass Band, with about eight members playing the Last Post on various instruments from their own driveways around the city at 6am, before one minute’s silence.

The band has done a mailbox drop in the streets around where members, wearing their uniforms, will be playing.

Band secretary Sharryn Thompson encouraged other musicians to do the same. Anyone wanting the sheet music to the tune could contact the band on its Facebook page.

Another community initiative is locally made Light Up the Dawn signs that can be displayed on properties as a show of respect.

The corflutes will be available for purchase from Portland Signworks on Tyers St from today. They cost $25, with $5 going to the RSL Appeal (see below), and contactless payment is available.

Rotary Club of Portland Bay president Bev McIlroy, who also has a long association with Legacy, said “we need to make sure that the Anzac community widows are aware that while we can’t physically be there (at ceremonies) we care”.

 Meanwhile, a pre-recorded service by Mr Davis and sub-branch secretary Reg Shepherd will be played on community radio station 3RPC (99.3FM) at 11am and Wave FM (87.6FM) at 11.30am.

3RPC will also broadcast a two-hour Anzac Day special from 10am.

“Anzac Day is as perennial as the tides,” Mr Shepherd said.

“This disruption to our commemoration is not the end of our remembrance of those whom we normally remember and honour.”

United Way Glenelg president Marg Wagner will read the children’s book Lest We Forget by Kerry Brown, Isobel Knowles and Benjamin Portas on the United Way Glenelg Facebook page at 10.30am, which is when the march would traditionally begin in Portland.

In Heywood, RSL president Mel Rowlands will raise the flags and lay wreaths at 6am.

“It’s important to go through with it,” Mr Rowlands said.

The Heywood fire brigade will sound its siren at 10am to mark the day and Mr Rowlands encouraged residents to stand in their driveways at that time for a couple of minutes of reflection.

While this year’s Anzac Day will be a community-driven commemoration rather than an RSL-led one, Portland’s Mr Davis was hopeful for the future.

“I just hope that next year’s service is going to be bigger and better,” he said.

● While the Portland sub-branch is not selling badges this year due to the restrictions, anyone wanting to donate to the Anzac Appeal can do so electronically or at the Westpac bank.

All money raised goes to help the welfare of veterans in Portland and Victoria. Donations can be made to the “Portland RSL Patriotic Welfare Fund No 1” account at the Portland branch of Westpac, BSB 033-656, account number 231443.

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