South Grafton RSL Sub-Branch's commemorative services co-ordinator Bob Hayes. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner
South Grafton RSL Sub-Branch's commemorative services co-ordinator Bob Hayes. Photo Adam Hourigan / The Daily Examiner

Anzac traditions vital, despite COVID-19 challenge

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THE COVID-19 restrictions on Anzac Day celebrations have thrown up some challenges to South Grafton RSL sub-Branch's commemorative services co-ordinator Bob Hayes.

Over the years Mr Hayes has managed to balance his instinct for putting on a good show with a tendency to be a stickler for tradition and protocol.

"You can't have the same thing each time," he said. "People get sick of it and don't want to come back.

"But you have to make sure you include all the protocols and traditions. In a way that keeps them relevant."

 

Cadet Hayden Watkins stands with the Australian flag in front of other members of the 24 ACU Grafton stand on the levee wall in South Grafton as part of the 2017 Anzac Day Dawn Service. Photo: Adam Hourigan
Cadet Hayden Watkins stands with the Australian flag in front of other members of the 24 ACU Grafton stand on the levee wall in South Grafton as part of the 2017 Anzac Day Dawn Service. Photo: Adam Hourigan

 

One of his popular innovations in recent years has been a Power Point presentation at the Dawn Service.

"I try to include a few different things each year, like a couple of songs, prayers or poetry," he said.

"This year we won't be able to have the Dawn Service like normal, but I've been thinking I would run it in my front yard."

 

South Grafton RSL Sub Branch president Bob Hayes addresses the crowd at the 2017 South Grafton Anzac Day ceremony.
South Grafton RSL Sub Branch president Bob Hayes addresses the crowd at the 2017 South Grafton Anzac Day ceremony.

 

Mr Hayes said he would ask his wife, Leonie, to play the National Anthem on the guitar for the service.

"If she's prepared to get out of bed for the 6am service I think I'll do that," he said.

"I can rig up a little guitar amp for it pretty easily."

Mr Hayes said he would love to see his neighbours get outside to show how they feel about Anzac Day.

"I'm a bit of a fan of the idea of the Driveway Commemoration," he said. "I've thinking of dropping some leaflets into the letter boxes of the people in my street to ask them to all get out in the morning at dawn for that."

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South Grafton Cenotaph Committee chairman Fred Norris and South Grafton RSL Sub-Branch president Bob Hayes next to the Anzacs of Greece Commemorative marble plaque placed at the previous site of the recently relocated cenotaph ahead of the unveiling of the plaque on Anzac Day in 2017. Photo Bill North / Daily Examiner
South Grafton Cenotaph Committee chairman Fred Norris and South Grafton RSL Sub-Branch president Bob Hayes next to the Anzacs of Greece Commemorative marble plaque placed at the previous site of the recently relocated cenotaph ahead of the unveiling of the plaque on Anzac Day in 2017. Photo Bill North / Daily Examiner

 

Mr Hayes said officially the club had some events planned which the executive would carry out privately.

"But if anyone wants to lay a wreath, we will have the flag flying at the cenotaph in South Grafton all day," he said.

"The social distancing rules will apply and if there's a few people there, it might be better to wait or come back a bit later."

MORE SOUTH GRAFTON ANZAC STORIES:

South Grafton Cenotaph: In March 2017 the South Grafton Cenotaph was relocated for the fourth time in its 94-year history. An Anzacs of Greece Commemorative marble plaque placed at the previous site will be unveiled on Anzac Day this year. Video by Bill North / The Daily Examiner
South Grafton Cenotaph: In March 2017 the South Grafton Cenotaph was relocated for the fourth time in its 94-year history. An Anzacs of Greece Commemorative marble plaque placed at the previous site will be unveiled on Anzac Day this year. Video by Bill North / The Daily Examiner