Police to refresh Albany RSL ranks

Tim EdmundsAlbany Advertiser
Albany RSL president Geoff McNeill with Sen. Const. Paul Hancock-Coffey, Sgt Damien Smith and auxiliary officer Paul Brown, who are looking to join the RSL.
Camera IconAlbany RSL president Geoff McNeill with Sen. Const. Paul Hancock-Coffey, Sgt Damien Smith and auxiliary officer Paul Brown, who are looking to join the RSL. Credit: Laurie Benson

Concerns over the increasing age of veterans and the survival of the Albany RSL sub-branch have been allayed by some familiar younger faces.

A year after raising concerns over the long-term viability of the State’s third-oldest RSL sub-branch on Anzac Day, the Albany RSL has experienced an injection of youth and increased membership in the form of local police.

Up to 15 officers have attended the sub-branch’s weekly sundowners, with some joining as members as they reconnect with fellow ex-service members.

Albany RSL sub-branch president Geoff McNeill said with the average age of members at 75, the RSL was looking to attract new and younger people to ensure memorial services such as Anzac Day and Remembrance Day continued.

“We have about 12 members who are in their 80s and late 80s and then we have got a whole lot in their 70s, and then we have the Vietnam boys, who are all 69-75,” Mr McNeill said.

“Over the years there has been a fairly close relationship with the police and the RSL for all sorts of reasons.

“We all have a military or military-style background but also there are a lot of interaction between the two groups because we run 10 services a year (and) we have to interact with the police all the time.”

Senior Constable Paul Hancock-Coffey, Sergeant Damien Smith and auxiliary officer Paul Brown all served in the Royal Australian Navy before becoming police officers.

Sen. Const. Hancock-Coffey said there were a number of officers looking to join the RSL.

He said officers without a military background had still shown interest. “I think if people see it’s an ongoing thing, they might be encouraged to come down,” he said.

Mr McNeill said the relationship with police had been built over time and the RSL also looked to connect with prison guards.

“We are just trying to develop a relationship around town where the ex-military people can actually get together,” he said.

“There is a commonality there between the three groups.”

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