LEST WE FORGET: Gayndah's new RSL Sub-Branch president Vicki Maddern at the Gayndah Cenotaph. Picture: Sam Turner
LEST WE FORGET: Gayndah's new RSL Sub-Branch president Vicki Maddern at the Gayndah Cenotaph. Picture: Sam Turner

New RSL president determined to honour Diggers

RETURNED servicewoman Vicki Maddern has fought for her country — now she’s fighting to ensure her service, and the service of others, is honoured on Anzac Day.

Mrs Maddern – whose 18 years of service with the Royal Australian Army included tours in the Middle East, East Timor, and the Solomon Islands – is honoured be the first female president of the Gayndah RSL Sub-Branch.

She’s also the first person in the role to face the cancellation of Anzac Day services, a decision made by RSL Queensland and fellow RSL state bodies across the country to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, RSL sub-branches are being encouraged to hold services remotely, whether on social media, on the radio, or on television.

Mrs Maddern said she was taking the challenge of organising an alternative Anzac Day commemoration in the town day by day, and had been discussing different options with her sub-branch committee and the community.

“It has been cancelled as a formal gathering, but we’re not cancelling it completely because we need to pay the respect that is due to these guys,” Mrs Maddern said.

Gayndah's Anzac Day 2019 service. Picture: File
Gayndah's Anzac Day 2019 service. Picture: File

Several members of the community have already been in touch with Mrs Maddern to find out what will happen in place of the historic Anzac Day tradition.

“It’s disappointing, as traditionally the RSL is responsible for running an Anzac Day service for the community and for veterans, and it was something I was really looking forward to,” she said.

“It’s sad that we can’t do a proper Anzac service, but we’re still going to do something.”

Ray Arthur commemorates Anzac Day at Gayndah, 2018. Photo: File
Ray Arthur commemorates Anzac Day at Gayndah, 2018. Photo: File

Mrs Maddern was previously a member of the sub-branch in the 1990s, and rejoined the branch after moving back to Gayndah in 2018.

After being voted in as the first female president in the Gayndah Sub-Branch’s history, she has the mammoth task of ensuring this Anzac Day is one to remember.

“They’ll remember this for the simple fact that it was the first time ever it was cancelled as a community gathering,” she said.

“But we’ve got to make it memorable, for the right reasons.”


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