Dawn of new era for RSL club

Ellenbrook RSL Sub-Branch’s Stephen O'Neil and Darby Munro.  Picture: David Baylis         d449575
Ellenbrook RSL Sub-Branch’s Stephen O'Neil and Darby Munro. Picture: David Baylis         d449575

The sub-branch is in the process of leaving its home at The Brook hotel ahead of Anzac Day.

President Stephen O’Neil said the club was moving to the football oval at Ellenbrook District Open Space to allow more people to attend the dawn service.

“In the time we’ve been conducting our dawn services at the Ellenbrook Memorial Amphitheatre (formerly known as Woodlake), the audience has become much larger,” he said.

“Last year, we had 4000 to 5000.

“So it’s become almost impossible for us to manage the audience that turn up to dedicate themselves to our service.”

Mr O’Neil, a member of the sub-branch for 13 years, said while some locals were disappointed, changing locations was the only feasible option.

“It will be a bit different this year,” he said.

“Aesthetically the amphitheatre is absolutely marvellous; it looks out across a lake.

“But here, we will be able to fit half the town on the oval.”

Mr O’Neil said there was no other way to permanently increase the capacity of the amphitheatre.

“We managed to get some funds from the Department of Veteran Affairs to seat the audience in a pavilion.

The only problem was it was only for that one event, after that we’d have to find the funds ourselves. And it would be extremely difficult for us to come up with that sort of money.”

Vice-president and welfare officer Darby Munro took on the difficult task of searching for a new location.

“To move the memorial from its present location to here (the Open Space) we’ve been quoted $17,700,” Mr Munro said.

“We have to raise that money somehow.”

He said the RSL survived off grants, fundraisers and donations.

“We do things like poppy day and hold barbecues at Bunnings,” Mr Munro said. “We also get a percentage of the annual membership.”

However, he said coming up with enough funds for the move was not possible.

“We’ve got about 56 members. Our membership is not a young membership, we’re not all workers.

“We have to go for grants by whatever means we can get to raise that money.

“Luckily, (property group) LWP have given us $5000 towards the purchase of an armoured personnel carrier from Victoria.”

The vehicle costs $7000 alone, and a further $6000 to get it transported to Perth.

“The purchase and transportation will really drain the funds of the RSL,” Mr Munro said. “But LWP have helped us out a lot, and we’re really grateful for their help.”

Mr O’Neil said the sub-branch hoped to complete the move as soon as it was financially possible.

“We have council approval so far to move here, so we’re still in the process of transferring here (the Open Space),” he said. “It’s just a matter of us now raising funds to set up here and move the memorial.”