Albany RSL sends S.O.S. to local business community — save our services

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Liam CroyAlbany Advertiser
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RSL's Michael Tugwell.
Camera IconRSL's Michael Tugwell. Credit: Laurie Benson/Picture: Laurie Benson, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

The Albany RSL sub-branch is calling on the business community to chip in to help keep the quality of the city’s Anzac Day services at the level locals and visitors have come to expect.

The Albany Advertiser received several letters after Anzac Day from residents disappointed with the lack of a big screen at Anzac Peace Park and the relocation of the traditional Gunfire Breakfast from Albany Entertainment Centre to Albany Boatshed.

Albany RSL services director Michael Tugwell said he “wholeheartedly” agreed with the criticism and had received similar feedback. One farmer drove 40km to his property in Napier to raise the issue with him.

Mr Tugwell said the big screen had allowed thousands of spectators to be part of the services as they happened, whether were in the VIP tent or right at the back of the Anzac Peace Park.

“Simply put, this issue is a direct result of drastic cuts to the funding received by the Albany RSL sub-branch,” Mr Tugwell said.

“As such, the reality is the requirement to cut costs, against the will of all members of the RSL Albany. This included relocating the Gunfire Breakfast, removing one of our VIP tents and the big screen.”

Mr Tugwell, a former regimental sergeant major in the Australian Army, said the sub-branch had been warned to expect further “savage” cuts to funding for the 2020 Anzac period.

He was not prepared to stand idly by while the quality of services dropped in “Australia’s home of Anzac”. “If we are to maintain the Anzac services as per the past five years then we need assistance with funding,” he said.

“By this I don’t mean pensioners donating, children handing over their pocket money etc. My view is that there is significant capital advantage gained by many of our larger businesses due to the influx of visitors to Albany each year in April, in part due to the Anzac Services held here.

“Perhaps these businesses can look at stepping forward to assist our quest for funding and in turn ensuring that the Anzac revenue they receive each year continues.

“This, coupled with assistance from larger WA-based companies would allow us to continue to provide as we have in the past, on behalf of the people of the Albany region, worldwide recognised commemorative services in memory of the service of everyday Australians.”

Lotterywest provides an annual grant to the RSLWA to to help deliver more than 90 Anzac Day services across the State.

A Lotterywest spokeswoman said this year’s grant of $814,802 was a slight decrease on last year’s grant of $849,498.

“Albany receives the largest allocation of all sub-branches, which is determined by the sub branch and the RSLWA,” she said.

“The RSLWA received the exact amount that they requested for Anzac Day 2019.”

If you can help, call Mr Tugwell on 9844 3797.

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