Women behind the wreaths
By Julia Wade
Anzac Day has many traditions, customs and symbols people use to express respect and gratitude for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, from poppies, prayers, salutes, the Last Post and the revered laying of beautifully coloured wreaths.
The remembrance bouquets seem to magically appear for the services that have the honour of placing them on the cenotaph. However hours of behind-the-scene preparation and activity goes into the creations, a task dedicated local women from the Women’s Section RSA (WSRSA) have undertaken since the organisation began over 60 years ago.
WSRSA president and welfare officer Lena Carleton says members as well as women from the neighbouring area, contribute plants, leaves and flowers from their own gardens before gathering at Hakaru RSA to assemble the wreaths on April 24, the day before ANZAC.
“We generally make around 24-26 wreaths for the day which takes a few hours,” she says. “We also take white crosses, poppies and lavender bunches to the four local cemeteries a week before and along with the RSA, assist with Poppy Day collections.”
WSRSA are usually in the kitchen before and after the ANZAC ceremony, preparing food for the crowds and have done since the Hakaru RSA’s conception, however this year they decided to hand the job over to the RSA.
“Some of the women are getting on a bit now in years,” Lena says. “The turnout for ANZAC was absolutely wonderful, lovely to see so many young people attend. A huge thank you to all the women, members and locals, who helped make the wreaths for the special day.”
Behind the scenes activity with members from Women Section RSA, locals and grandchildren lending a hand to make the many wreaths required for Hakaru’s ANZAC ceremony.
Flowers and the laying of wreaths symbolises remembrance and respect in memory of those who have died during war