The Defence Health Legacy Centenary Torch Relay 2023 is a 6-month campaign to pay homage and acknowledge Australian veterans’ families, saluting their sacrifice. Travelling from France to Melbourne, the torch will travel over 50,000 km, carried by approximately 1,500 Torch Bearers.
Legacy developed from a promise by an Australian soldier in the trenches of the Western Front during WWI who said to his dying mate ‘I’ll look after the missus and kids’. The first Legacy club was established in Melbourne, 1923, by General Sir Stanley Savige, in response to the need felt by returned servicemen to take the responsibility for care for the families of their mates who didn’t return.
The Legacy Centenary Torch Relay 2023 began on 23 April 2023 in Pozières France. The Battle of Pozières was part of the major battle of the Western Front in the Somme region during WWI and is now the site of a Commonwealth Memorial for soldiers lost during the campaign. From here, the Torch has travelled to a number of sites of significance of WWI including the Villers Brentonneux Memorial and the Menin Gate Memorial.
After travelling through London, which is the only Legacy Club outside of Australia, the Torch will travel to all 44 Legacy Clubs in Australia. In our New England region, this Centenary Torch will travel through Inverell on Wednesday June 28th, detouring to Coffs Harbour, before returning to Armidale on Sunday July 2nd and then to Tamworth on Tuesday July 4th.
Each town will acknowledge the arrival of the Centenary Torch in their own unique way. The Inverell Relay will commence at the Kurrajongs Memorial with official speeches by Mayor Paul Harmon and young Legacy beneficiary Sophie McWirhter. After the ceremonial ribbon cutting by the Shepherd family, the relay will unite the town, being passed between 22 local Torch bearers, finishing at the Legacy units. The last Torch bearer will light the Legacy Torch Relay Cauldron before the official opening of the new Legacy Memorial by President Legatee Rick Ellis.
Mrs Lyn Kitawal, General Manager of the Legacy Club of Inverell, said the Torch bearers have been selected as representatives of the Legacy organisation, “all have an association with Legacy either as a Legatee or as a beneficiary, some are ex-service and some have a family association”.
In preparation for the Torch’s arrival in Tamworth, Tamworth Legacy has partnered with Challenge Community Services to produce one thousand Crosses adorned with poppies. President of Tamworth Legacy Club, Greg Roese, said “One of the reasons we did this was to try to involve the community in our project and our celebrations, and I’m so grateful that Challenge has come on board”. The crosses will be used to surround the Waler Memorial ‘Pool of Reflection’ in a Ceremony to recognise those from the district who made the supreme sacrifice.
The Tamworth Legacy Relay will traverse the streets of Tamworth, passing many Memorial sites along it’s 10km journey, carried by 32 Torch bearers, and led by The Australian Light Horse and other current service personnel. The Relay will conclude at the Town Hall where the Legacy Torch Relay Cauldron will be lit, and the Legacy Centenary Plaque unveiled.
After the Tamworth leg of the Torch Relay, the torch will continue its journey south around Australia, stopping at each Legacy house, with a final Centenary celebration and commemoration in Melbourne at the Shrine of Remembrance on Friday October 13th.
For more information on the Legacy Centenary Torch Relay, or how you can help Legacy continue to care for the families of Australian Veterans who have given their life or their health in service of our Nation, visit the Legacy website https://www.legacy.com.au/centenary
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