LEST WE FORGET: Wendy and Les Simpson, of Ballina, are travelling with a Ballina RSL group to Gallipoli to commemorate Anzac Da
LEST WE FORGET: Wendy and Les Simpson, of Ballina, are travelling with a Ballina RSL group to Gallipoli to commemorate Anzac Da

Pilgrimage honours fallen

By MARY MANN mary.mann@northernstar.com.au AS ANZAC Day draws closer and Australians remember the sacrifices made in World War I, Wendy Simpson and a group of Northern Rivers locals are preparing for an emotional journey of discovery. Mrs Simpson and her husband Les, along with eight others, will travel to Gallipoli to be part of an international gathering of people commemorating the tragic events of April 25, 1915. A tingle ran up Mrs Simpson's spine when she first saw a television advertisement promoting an Anzac Day dawn service in Gallipoli, so when the opportunity to join the tour group came up, she jumped at it. The 10-day tour is organised by the Ballina RSL Club in partnership with NRMA Club Tours. "We've both taught kids about the war and Anzac Day so it will be fantastic to actually be there and see the places we've been talking about," Ms Simpson said. Mr Simpson is a primary school teacher and Mrs Simpson is a retired high school teacher. "I've been telling the kids about the trip and they're really excited," Mr Simpson said. After the tour the couple will go on to Paris and London for a holiday. Anzac Day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces at Gallipoli during the First World War. Bob Grant, Ballina RSL Club chairman, said it was the first time the Anzac Day tour had been run. "I'm pleased the tour is going ahead, it is a wonderful opportunity," he said. The tour leaves on April 19 and includes guided tours, talks and an Anzac Day dawn service. The group will also attend either the Australian or New Zealand National Services at Lone Pine or Chunuk Bair, and will visit the Anzac commemorative site, Anzac Cove, Shrapnel Valley and Beach Cemetery. David Ballingall, owner of Jetset Ballina, said about a dozen people booked trips to Gallipoli with his business each year. "They're not necessarily all on Anzac Day, but a lot of people like to make the trip for historic and sentimental reasons," Mr Ballingall said. "A few of the older travellers have gone over because their grandparents fought in the war. They usually fly into Istanbul, go on a tour and make it part of a bigger trip. "I've been there before, it's an amazing place. Very moving." Joanna Butler, a consultant at Flight Centre in Lismore, said people usually enquired about trips to Gallipoli after they had seen Anzac Day advertised. "We get about a handful go each year," she said. "I went in 1998, it was one of the best things I've ever done." Local women Joy Cran, Marcia Bourne and Shirley Oag will also be going on the tour. The women, aged over 80, proudly remember their dads who fought at Gallipoli and in joining the tour say they are realising a life-long dream Have you been to Gallipoli? Do you have a story about what happened to you when you were there? The Northern Star is putting together a feature for Anzac Day and would love to hear from you. Email news@northernstar.com.au.

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