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Anzac Day unites Clarence Valley community

Emma Pritchard

As a massive crowd gathered at Memorial Park in Grafton to commemorate Anzac Day on Sunday, many commented how wonderful it was to come together as a community to pay our respects on the 106th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli.

The earlier Dawn Service at 6am also drew a large crowd with former South Grafton High School student and RAAF Flight Lieutenant Amanda Kent delivering the Dawn Service address. 

Large crowds also lined Prince Street to watch the traditional Anzac Day march with several local schools also proudly participating.

Honourable Secretary of the Grafton RSL Sub-Branch Denis Benfield was the MC for the 10am service, and described the gathering as the biggest Anzac Day crowd he had seen in many years.

After the Very Reverend Dr Greg Jenks, Dean of Grafton read the Anzac prayer, Oliver Westman, Captain of Grafton High School, eloquently delivered a stirring commemorative address and spoke with pride and passion of his ancestor Harold Thomas Watkins, who served during World War I at Gallipoli and died tragically on what would later become known as Anzac Day, at the age of 20.

Speaking to the Clarence Valley Independent following the service, Mr Westman said he felt proud and honoured to speak about his great, great uncle, and share his story of Gallipoli with those in attendance.

As respective parties were dutifully invited to lay wreaths at the Grafton cenotaph, a special mention was made to the inmates of the Clarence Correctional Centre (CCC), who created a beautiful metal wreath of red poppies out of protected carbon steel, using their newly acquired metal work skills.

The wreath was laid at the cenotaph on their behalf by CCC staff.

As the 10am service was brought to a close following the reciting of the ode, the crowd bowed their heads in a united show of respect as three simple, powerful words, rose into the air.

Lest we forget.