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Green light for Geraldton Anzac Day services at ‘traditional’ Birdwood House site

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Geraldton RSL sub-branch president Barry Stinson.
Camera IconGeraldton RSL sub-branch president Barry Stinson. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian

Geraldton veterans and their families will be welcomed back to Birdwood House on Anzac Day for the first time in two years, with commemorations given the green light this week.

The Geraldton RSL sub-branch confirmed dawn and morning services would be held at the Chapman Road memorial on April 25.

It comes after Level 2 COVID restrictions and high local case numbers threatened to scrap the event or move activities to a different venue.

The sub-branch last year came under fire for its decision to move Anzac Day commemorations to Wonthella Oval due to difficulties with managing COVID rules.

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The 2019 Anzac Day service at Birdwood House.
Camera IconThe 2019 Anzac Day service at Birdwood House. Credit: City of Greater Geraldton

In 2020, no public service was held and locals were instead encouraged to light up the dawn from their driveways.

After consulting with the City of Greater Geraldton, Department of Health RSLWA and Geraldton police, sub-branch president Barry Stinson said organisers were now confident Birdwood House could safely host veterans and community members once more.

“We are so pleased we have been able to get back to our traditional home for services at Birdwood House. People have been champing at the bit to try and get to an Anzac Day service,” he said.

The event will look almost exactly the same as pre-COVID Anzac services, with the exception of a community breakfast.

“The only thing we can’t do this year is have a real big gunfire breakfast because of the 2sqm rule inside Birdwood House,” he said.

“Entry is going to be by invitation only to RSL servicemen and women. We would like to extend it more. . . but we are limited to 125 people inside (at one time).”

Guests will also be encouraged to wear masks and practice social distancing where possible.

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