Legacy of service shared

Aiden BoyhamSound Telegraph

It is a Thursday morning and the Port Kennedy RSL is abuzz with chatter and excitement.

Nearly 50 women have gathered to catch up, have a cuppa and soak up the atmosphere, but it’s a club not like any other.

All the women at the RSL for this gathering are defence widows — women whose husbands either made the ultimate sacrifice in conflict or died after their service for our country.

The Rockingham Legacy Laurel Club, led by president Pauline Vernon, has been a part of the community for nearly 27 years.

It offers widows a chance to socialise with others in a similar position, with the group often seen out and about on trips and excursions.

Mrs Vernon joined the club shortly after Frank, her husband of 61 years, died.

“After my husband passed away, I got a letter from Legacy,” she said.

“They told me about it (the club) and I went along and joined and I’ve been in it for over 11 years.”

Mrs Vernon’s family has a history of serving in the Australian Defence Force.

“Frank was in the army, my son was in the army and my father was in the army,” she said.

“My father was in the First World War, my husband the Second and my son served for 22 and a half years in the army.

“My grandson has been in the army and he came out of the army and now he is in the navy.

“It’s a fair run down the family!”

Mrs Vernon said the club had doubled in size in the past six years, with 49 members now on the books.

“The ladies that come… we haven’t had one who hasn’t later joined the club,” she said.

“They see that everybody is friendly and happy. Anyone who’s a war widow or whose husband served in the defence forces and is a widow, they are entitled to join.

“We’d love to see some new faces.”

Club members catch up every two weeks, on DVA pension day, with any widows interested in joining encouraged to contact Mrs Vernon on 9594 0527.

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