Emotional connection to Legacy Week

The volunteer sheet filled fast when nominations were called to collect fundraising money for Legacy Week throughout the Hunter region.

CAPTION: Flight Sergeant Geoff McLaughin, from No. 77 Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown, sells a Legacy bear to Louise Neider in Newcastle during Legacy Week. Story and photo by Corporal Melina Young.

Service personnel from RAAF Base Williamtown lined the streets around the Newcastle district from August 31 to September 2 after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Legacy Newcastle Club is 90 this year and supports thousands of beneficiaries, including 40 children of veterans.

Club president Lorraine O’Connor said the community-based charity relied heavily on volunteers such as the ADF.

“It’s just been wonderful in the past having our service personnel give their time and I hope the ADF will continue to do so,” Mrs O’Connor said.

Leading Aircraftman Owen Griffiths, from No. 3 Control and Reporting Unit, took to the streets and shopping centres in Maitland and said Legacy held a special place in the hearts of his family.

“Legacy provided emotional and financial assistance to my grandmother, who was left a widow, and my mother and her three siblings left as orphans [under the Legacy definition], after my grandfather died in 1957,” Leading Aircraftman Griffiths said.

Leading Aircraftman Griffiths’ mother, Minna Griffiths, recalled how Legacy was always in the background, whenever they needed it and for whatever they wanted.

“We lived in the bush with no electricity back in those days and Legacy helped my mum move closer to services in town,” Mrs Griffiths said.

“Mum was a very strong independent woman. She didn’t call on Legacy a lot, but it was a great comfort to her to know they were there if you really needed them.

“I’m so proud and pleased that Owen volunteered his time during Legacy week because they did so much for us.”

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CAPTION: Leading Aircraftman Owen Griffiths, from RAAF Base Williamtown, volunteered his time during Legacy week to raise funds for the worthy charity. Photo by Corporal Melina Young.

Fellow Newcastle volunteer Flight Sergeant Geoff McLaughin, from No. 77 Squadron, said his strong desire to give back to those in need was steering him to become a Legatee.

He is a family man, with three decades of devoted service, three operational deployments, a medal of the Order of Australia – Military Division, a huge sense of community spirit and a long family history of serving members.

“As I have grown older, I have become more aware of the many organisations that have supported military members and their families, including mine when my partner underwent treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a type of blood cancer,” Flight Sergeant McLaughin said.

He was also motivated by a Department of Veterans’ Affairs article about a colleague who became a Legatee. It spoke to the themes of military values and culture to support those people in need – an extension of ADF service and a sense of community care, engagement and family welfare.

“I found his story of working with a young fellow who had recently lost his veteran father very inspiring and attuned to my own fatherly instincts,” Flight Sergeant McLaughin said.

The badges and bears may be little, but the money raised through the week will make a huge impact to the families and children in the Hunter region.

Legacy Week ran from August 28 to September 3, but donations can still be made to Legacy at www.legacy.com.au/donate/





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