Menai community's strength and spirit shines through at Anzac Day dawn service

The strength and spirit of the Menai community shone through at their Anzac Day dawn ceremony.

Well over 2000 people gathered at the Wall of Remembrance in Parc Menai, with a chorus from the kookaburras in surrounding trees breaking out as proceedings began.

Among those present was Ty Burke, wearing the medals of his stepfather Tim Aplin, who died serving in Afghanistan.

Private Aplin was serving with the Special Operations Task Group when he and two comrades lost their lives lives in a helicopter crash on June 2, 2010.

Ros Daw, who is a member of the Menai Rural Fire Service, attended with her daughter Danielle and granddaughters Ella, 4, and Catelyn, 6.

The children wore medals awarded to their father, who served overseas in the army, and could not attend because of work commitments.

"We come to commemorate those we have lost and be thankful for those who returned," Ms Daw said.

Darren Carnegie-Clark, who grew up in the area and attended Menai High School, attends each year even though he now lives in Bexley.

"I used to go to the Cronulla and Miranda dawn services, but when I found out about this one I have been coming here since," he said.

"I have friends here and I like to support the area."


Jaqi Unahi needed few words to explain his commitment to the dawn service: "Every year man, every year".

Up until five years ago, Menai didn't have a war memorial or Anzac Day commemoration because there is no RSL Club or sub-branch in the area.

Former president of Menai and Sutherland Districts Chamber of Commerce president Andrew Manson began a campaign to establish a memorial.

Community donations and a $55,000 boost from Sutherland Shire Council saw the memorial ready for the centenary of the Gallipoli landing in 2015.

Mr Manson has since moved interstate and the dawn service is organised by a community committee and co-funded by Club Central Menai and Sutherland Shire Business Chamber.

Retired servicemen on the organising committee included Mike Butler, Mike Fairbrother, Jim Gellett and Peter Raue.

The service included readings by students from Menai High School, Aquinas Catholic College, Sutherland Shire Christian School, Lucas Heights Community School and Tharawal Primary School.

There were musical performances by the Holy Family Parish Choir, Matt Favelle from Menai Guitar School and Justin and Jarod Copeland.

The 4th/3rd Battalion Royal New South Wales Regiment provided the Catafalque Party.

Others who contributed to the service included MC John Pearson, Rev Stefan Bull from Menai Anglican Church, Max Clark from the St George Sutherland Scottish Piping Band, bugler Andrew Hill from the Salvation Army and Menai area Girl Guides, who took part in the flag raising.

Menai Fire Brigade and the State Emergency Service brought vehicles to the service in a show of support.