People power restores memorial

People power restores memorial

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Jarrahdale volunteers with one of the newly installed silhouette cut-outs at the refurbished War Memorial.

A passionate effort by community volunteers has returned the Jarrahdale War Memorial to its former glory, after years of neglect had left it in a state of disrepair.

Jeanette Booth, who moved to Jarrahdale with her husband in 2018, said the idea to clean up the monument came when a remembrance ceremony sparked discussion in the Jarrahdale Community Collective.

“I run a social sewing and crafts group, and two years or so ago we knitted a poppy for each child at the primary school for Remembrance Day,” said Jeannette.

“My husband is in the armed forces, so remembrance has always been a huge part of our lives,” she said.

“All up we did about 98 poppies and all the kids in the school came down and we had a small ceremony, my husband stood there in his uniform and said a few words and it was nice,” she said.

It was heart-breaking to see it, it was beyond neglected,” said Jeanette.

“One of the other members said, ‘I’d really love to see something done with that,’ and I said, ‘well, I would love to take it on,’” said Jeanette.

But Jeannette was hard-pressed to find help when she contacted the organisations she believed were responsible for the site.

“I got in touch with the RSL, the War Graves Commission and The Shire and no one wanted to do anything about it,” said Jeanette.

“And I thought, ‘this is our community, let’s take it on and do it ourselves’ – and that’s what we did, we took it on as a community,” said Jeanette.

Beginning with just a few volunteers cleaning up leaves and pruning trees, the movement to restore the monument quickly grew.

“Everywhere we’ve turned there’s been someone willing to put their hand up and help,” said Jeannette, listing the time, skills and materials that have been generously donated by community members and businesses.

Former serviceman and Member for Darling Range Hugh Jones MLA, who supported the volunteering efforts, said he was honoured to help out.

“It was great to see the community coming together to proactively restore such an important monument which commemorates the women and men from Jarrahdale who made the ultimate sacrifice,” he said.

The volunteers, who cleaned up leaves and rubbish, replaced wooden benches, refurbished the memorial plaque and renewed stone edging on the pathways, have transformed the site.

A new installation of steel silhouettes featuring the Aboriginal artwork of Melissa Spillman has tied the project together.

“It was important to incorporate the indigenous community as part of the works, and Melissa Spillman’s artwork is such a powerful reminder for future generations,” Jeanette said.

“We’re just about to start the next phase we’re hoping to have everything up and running for the ANZAC service in April,” she said.

“It builds that sense of community where people can walk past and say, ‘I helped with that.’”