GUN DRILL: Bessie Wilson learns the ropes with a machine gun at the Army Open Day at Woodenbong.
GUN DRILL: Bessie Wilson learns the ropes with a machine gun at the Army Open Day at Woodenbong. Joyce Marsh

Army fundraises for Woodenbong youth

OVER the past 12 months the 8th/9th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (8/9 RAR) Brisbane have deployed more than 400 soldiers in four separate operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and the last battalion returned to Australia in July.

It came time for extensive exercises and Commanding Officer of 8/9 RAR Lieutenant Colonel James Hammett decided to put his battalion through its paces in the dense country of Unumgar State Forest just 10km south-east of Woodenbong in NSW, where 600 of the Australian Army's finest infantrymen and women slogged up and down some of the steepest hills and densest jungle that Australia has to offer.

The exercise was based from the Woodenbong Showgrounds and involved the battalion's rifle companies and supporting elements.

After several days the activity concluded with the battalion conducting a forced march back to the showgrounds to take part in an open day for members of the public and local community.

To the amazement of the visitors who attended the open day, the Army put on a real show with interactive activities.

These included personal contact, the children using metal detectors improvising finding land mines, using night vision goggles, camouflage face painting, rides in the Bushman tanks, handling a machine gun, give-aways of hats and drink bottles and a commentated mock battle on the hill which included smoke bombs.

For this day the Army officer offered the Woodenbong community a fundraising opportunity to raise funds for a local cause.

The chosen recipients were four of Woodenbong's talented children who represent our community, school and Australia by their pursuits, three in sport and one in education. They are:

  • Remy Leonard for archery representing Australia in Turkey, Ireland, USA and NZ.
  • Katelyn Grimmett for touch football in NZ and in 2017 for futsal in California.
  • Shallin Fuller for touch football in NZ.
  • Isaiah Hickling won the Prestigious Arts Scholarship and studies at the Whitehouse Institute of Design in Sydney.

All this travelling is expensive and the young people were recognised for their need of assistance.

A great effort by generous local volunteers who pulled the opportunity together in a short time, and with the soldiers and visitors who supported it, it raised $1800.

Rod Moreton of the Woodenbong Riding Club rallied and added a $200 donation, giving each child $500 each.

The presentations to the children were made by WPA president Christine Reid and Jody Dickens at the big Woodenbong trail bike event held last weekend which in itself was a fabulous fundraiser for the community.

There, hundreds of participants, visitors and locals were treated to the professional stunt riding exhibition by Brad Burch and Robbie Marshall of "Showtime” who have come through the ranks from Nitro Circus and Crusty Demons.

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