Last Friday, the 21st of February, saw the first Soldier On Day without our superhero Tommy Spithill and his amazing organisational skills – managing to ensure the event goes ahead no matter how short notice and doing the jobs of many. Our colourful Mr. Bob Bennett and Scott Reynolds took the reins in ensuring a smooth transition from Tommy’s command in the hope of making the Soldier On Sailing Day a continued aspect of RPAYC’s community support. Following the veteran’s sailing day Friday, we also had the Soldier On Family Day on Sunday the 23rd where veterans and their families cruise to Portuguese Beach for a BBQ and mess about on the club’s Hobie Waves, kayaks and some swimming on the beach.
As you may be aware, Soldier On aims to support our current- and ex-serving military and first responders by expanding meaningful connection with family, community and employers. Our Soldier On Sailing Day supports this mission by providing participants the opportunity to come together in a safe and supportive environment, connect with great people in a beautiful location, have a go at sailing and get the opportunity to follow sailing pathways within the club if they desire. This has a ripple effect, making a significant difference to their rehabilitation and integration back into the community.
Comments from one participant who initially didn’t feel like turning up on the sailing day: ‘A couple of hours on the water with Linda will definitely make [wounded, injured and ill veterans] reassess their own situation…. then they will turn that wall of adversity into a ladder and climb out of whatever doldrum they are in…. The very next day my focus shifted from where I may fail my family to I know I have to be there for them.’
These latest two sailing days would not have been a success without the fantastic support from our volunteers: Bob Bennett and the Enigma crew; Bruce Killingsworth, Tim Watcyn-Jones, Phil Smith, Lindy Smith, our resident veterans Scott Reynolds, Nick Johnson, Craig McGrath, Natahsha Fox, Glenn Armstrong, John Mudge, and our members Julia and Chris Hornsby, Pete Berry, Bob Rayner, Rod Walton and John Ewing.
Many thanks go out to all the members who add to the fantastic community and support that Alfred’s provides.
If you are interested in contributing to the success of these events in any capacity – positively impacting the lives of our wounded warriors – or would like any more information about our Soldier On Sailing Days, please feel free to contact Brendan Rourke in the sailing office, Bob Bennett or any of our veteran members.
‘I have seen some amazing transformations over the past few years with the sailing…. So I wanted to let you know how significant your program is having in the lives of those who feel they have lost everything and to say thank you to yourself and all involved in the sailing day.’
- A health professional at the St John of God trauma wing.
Article with thanks to Natahsha Fox