In a timely gesture, veterans, locals and council representatives came together last week to plant a ‘lone pine’ tree at the recently upgraded ANZAC memorial in the Willows.
President of the Willows Recreation Club Dave Turkington said the memorial was a sore sight before the club’s committee and council joined forces to restore the area.
‘The memorial was very bare apart from a small pebbled area in front of the flagpole and plaque, and there were cacti growing behind it and plain dirt to the side.’
The memorial has since received $5,000 worth of upgrades, including the installation of stone to cover the ground, a framed ‘Lest We Forget’ sign, the planting of a lone pine tree and sandstone blocks around the memorial to deter people from driving over the area.
‘Installing the lone pine tree was a suggestion from the committee to introduce a focal point in our area and to honour the few veterans in town,’ Mr Turkington said.
Mayor Kerry Hayes had a fantastic time at the planting event and praised Willows residents for their community spirit.
‘We love getting out into our smaller communities and being able to show our support where it matters,’ Mayor Hayes said.
‘It was fantastic to see such involvement from the small Willows community and get their contribution in planting the lone pine tree.
‘The planting of the lone pine tree is symbolic of the solitary tree on Gallipoli Peninsula, which marked the battle of Lone Pine in WWI, and we got it planted just in time for Anzac Day.’
The Gemfields RSL President Keith Jones was excited to be a part of the celebrations.
‘We were so happy that the Gemfields RSL was invited along and had a part to play in planting the pine,’ he said.
Mr Turkington offered his praise and thanks to the council’s parks and recreation team on this project.
‘We were lucky enough to meet and work with several council staff who helped bring this project to life,’ he said.
‘The council team were really receptive to improving the recreation club and making it a community hub.
‘It was also great to see so many council members at the tree planting last week.
‘The highlight of the day was seeing the locals helping to plant the tree and certainly, the veterans being a big part of the day made it all worthwhile.’