Tim Neville Arboretum, Ferntree Gully
1st November 2014
Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery and Mrs Marlena Jeffery.
Members of Parliament, other dignitaries, families, relatives, and loved ones of those who are lost, veterans.
Fellow Knox residents.
In April 2012, a Mrs Alison Jones and Meryl Jones came to see me in my office. I did not know them, but they introduced themselves as the mother and sister of Sergeant Brett Wood, an Australian soldier, a local Ferntree Gully boy, who was tragically killed in Afghanistan.
Alison and Meryl pointed out that there was no memorial recognising him in the local area (or indeed recognising the other local lad killed in Afganistan – Benjamin Ranaudo) and it would perhaps be fitting if there was one.
When I asked what they had in mind, Meryl said with a smile that merely a life-sized solid gold statue of Brett would do.
I thought at the time that if that is what it took for Australia to properly say thank you for his sacrifice, then we would move heaven and earth to do it.
Two and a half years later we are here today. We do not have a gold statue, but I hope we have a fitting tribute for Brett Wood, for Benjamin Ranaudo and the other 118 local young men killed in the service of our nation.
This magnificent memorial came about because of a tremendous community effort. Following the initial meeting with Mrs Jones, we formed a Knox Anzac Memorial Committee to progress the idea of a memorial to not just honour those fallen in Afganistan, but all locals in the area who paid the ultimate sacrifice. We realised, to our surpise that no such honour roll existed. Existing rolls were fragmented or incomplete.
So before we do the dedication and formal unveiling, I would like to acknowledge the Committee members who made this happen.
Mr Rod Canobie, President of Boronia RSL, Mr Noel McLean, President of Bayswater RSL and Mr Gerry Turner, Representative from Outer Eastern Vietnam Veterans Association, I thank you for your leadership and particularly for guiding us on the design.
Mr Hurtle Lupton, Chairman of Knox Remembrance Day Committee, who has had a vision of a Knox Honour Roll memorial for many years.
To Ray Peace and Barbara Ellard from the Knox Historical Society who spent hundreds of hours researching to ensure the accuracy of the roll.
To Glynis Allan and David Jancik in my office for supporting me.
And finally to the Knox Council and particularly Dr Ian Bell who sat on the committee. While I could secure the federal government funding for the project and Nick Wakeling the state funding, the memorial could not have been built without the Council who project-managed the design and construction. For Ian and his staff, it was not just another project for them, but something deeply personal and important, and the fact that so many Knox Council staff are here today volunteering to make this day happen is testament to their commitment.
There are so many others who have made this memorial happen including Bendigo Bank who provided some initial seed funding to conduct the research and all the other organisations listed on your program.
I have been so proud to Chair our Committee and work with these people.
This beautiful moving memorial is now complete and ready for its dedication.
William Head is listed as the first resident on the memorial – an Upper Gully lad killed on the shores of Gallipoli on 25th April 1915. ANZAC Day.
Banjamin Ranaudo and Brett Wood are listed last.
The ANZAC spirit binds them together.
Our vision was that this memorial would be a fitting tribute to the fallen and be a place for both children and adults to learn, to reflect and shed a tear of thanks.
Our hope is that the memorial lives up to the aspiration of Mrs Jones, the Ranaudo family and the families and loved ones of the other local heroes listed.
Our prayer is to ask that no name may ever need to be added.