Royal Australian Navy personnel from the shore establishments HMAS Kuttabul and HMAS Penguin collected donations from generous match goers at the Weary Dunlop Shield rugby game between the Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels last Friday, in support of Sydney Legacy.
It was the sixth time the two teams had gone head to head for the shield, which was named in honour of Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop, who represented Australia and Victoria in rugby union and served as a medical officer in World War II.
The match, which is known as ‘Armed Forces Night’, annually recognises those from New South Wales and Victoria who served and who currently serve in the armed forces. It also specifically honours 388 New South Wales Rugby Union players who lost their lives in World War I, including the then President of NSW Rugby Union, Major James McManamey.
Armed with collection buckets, Kuttabul and Penguin shipmates lapped Allianz Stadium to raise funds for Legacy, which will be used to support the families of veterans. Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel also formed an Honour Guard with Junior Legatees as the rugby players ran onto the field prior to kick off.
Lead by Ship’s Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer Robert Van Eldik, it was the third year Kuttabul members have been involved in Armed Forces Night. WO Van Eldik was grateful to see rugby fans reach deep into their pockets and contribute towards Legacy.
“Our people regularly assist Legacy to support families that have lost a loved one due to ADF service,” he said, “it was great to see that sense of support extended by the public who attended the game.”
As an added bonus, the rugby enthusiast and Queensland Reds supporter was grateful for the opportunity to watch the Waratahs versus Rebels match after the coin collection had concluded.
“Being an old rugger myself, it's great to be able to reminisce the old days and watch such professional athletes compete,” WO Van Eldik said.
Navy members from Kuttabul and two from Penguin participated in Armed Forces Night.
Following the success of last year’s event, which raised approximately $6900, all eleven personnel were thrilled by the final sum raised during the 2014 event, which was more than twelve thousand dollars.
The rugby match was the first of many remembrance activities planned for Sydney in the lead up to Anzac Day this year.
Navy Sailors and Officers will be collecting donations prior to the AFL match between the Sydney Swans and Fremantle Dockers at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Saturday 19 April.
Legacy representative Kerry Morris said there was a long history of mutual support between Legacy and the Royal Australian Navy.
“Legacy is there to support the families of RAN personnel that have given their lives or health,” she explained.
“Legacy Sydney currently supports a number of young RAN families and contemporary widows.
“In Sydney we are very lucky to receive generous support in the form of volunteers from HMA Ships Kuttabul, Watson, Penguin and Waterhen.
“When ever the call is put out to Defence for volunteers, Navy people are always the first to put up their hands and are always willing to do anything; from collecting donations, distributing rosemary or selling badges during Legacy Week,” she said.
Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20140691.