Veteran hands over the reins

Veteran hands over the reins

Serpentine Jarrahdale RSL sub branch president Shana McKay and former president Rick Giblett with the Charter. Photograph – Aaron Van Rongen.

After spending 13 years at the helm of his local RSL sub branch, Vietnam war veteran Rick Giblett has decided to step down as president, leaving it to the next generation.

The Serpentine Jarrahdale RSL sub branch was officially formed in 2005 after Mr Giblett recognised the need to have a physical representation in the region.

“I went and spoke with the bowling club in Byford and asked if they would be interested in having an RSL sub branch there and they said yes, so I borrowed $500 from RSL WA and sent out mail in the Serpentine Jarrahdale area which invited everyone to a meeting in September 2005,” he said.

“We had about 50 people turn up to the meeting and everyone was unanimous that we needed the service for the troops and their families in Serpentine Jarrahdale.”

From there a steering committee was formed until an official election was held at the group’s first annual general meeting.

Elected as the inaugural president, Mr Giblett had three main goals for the organisation; to find a permanent home for the RSL sub branch, to provide an income for the organisation and to build a dedicated memorial park in the area.

During Mr Giblett’s reign, the sub branch has grown from strength to strength with the group finding a home for its op shop within its first two years of operation, as well as the erection of the memorial park in The Glades, which was completed in 2015.

“We had an official opening of the park the week before ANZAC Day and hosted the dawn service there the following week,” he said.

“We had a march and a procession down the road for the opening, as well as a police band and a fly over with the Royal Australian Air Force.

“Then a week later for ANZAC Day we had about 5000 people for the first service at the new site where all the streets around the park are named after the people in the Serpentine Jarrahdale area who have served in war.”

At the group’s annual general meeting this year, Mr Giblett made his decision known to step down from the role, leaving the responsibility of president to former secretary and former Australian Army soldier and officer Shana McKay.

Although Mr Giblett is staying on with the organisation as a committee member, he said 13 years was long enough.

“Moving forward I believe the sub branch needs someone with a bit more energy who can take the RSL to the next level moving forward and I think Shana is perfect for the job,” he said.

Mr Giblett has previously been awarded the National Medal for long service to the nation, the Centenary Medal for service to veteran community and on Australia Day in 2017 he received the Order of Australia for his services to veterans and their families.