RSL closing in on new home

Planning to move in: Mannum RSL security Sue Hunter, far left, members John Hunter and Athalae Jericho and president Denis Jericho at the gates at the Mannum Showgrounds, the site earmarked for a new RSL building.
Planning to move in: Mannum RSL security Sue Hunter, far left, members John Hunter and Athalae Jericho and president Denis Jericho at the gates at the Mannum Showgrounds, the site earmarked for a new RSL building.

THE Mannum Returned and Services League is edging closer to its dreams of a permanent home with plans well underway for a new building for the active sub-branch.

The RSL sub-branch has spent much of its 101-year history without a permanent home, but members have spent the past five months devising and finalising plans for a new facility.

Mannum RSL secretary Sue Hunter said that while the plans were in place, the sub-branch had a goal of actively raising about $120,000.

Last week, Federal Member for Baker Tony Pasin announced the Mannum RSL had been successful in securing funds for a new memorial through the government's Saluting Their Service Commemorative Grants Program.

The Mannum RSL sub-branch will receive $10,000 to construct a new memorial in dedication to the service and sacrifice of Australia's military personnel, set to be erected at the same site as the proposed new building.

Ms Hunter said that while the current memorial on Randell Street was in a picturesque location, the development of surrounding roads meant it was not always a safe location for large crowds to gather.

"The current memorial in a dangerous spot and it costs council a lot of money to close the road each time we use it for an event," Ms Hunter said.

Addressing the need for a new home, president Denis Jericho said the sub-branch was active in the community and had scope to grow.

Mr Jericho said the branch owned a lot of war memorabilia that deserved to be on public display.

"We do have a small area we share with the rowing club ... but right now we have things scattered all over Mannum, things like old war uniforms hanging in member's homes," he said.

RSL member John Hunter said a new facility would allow the branch to achieve its main objective of honouring service men and women and extend possibilities even further.

"A new facility would give us more scope to do more in the community in regards to mental health and social inclusion, to help veterans and the wider community as a whole," he said.

A staggering 756 people from Mannum went to World War II with the town's population at about 1500 at the time. The Mannum sub-branch has six members who are veterans of World War II, including 101-year-old veteran John Chandler and a 75-year member Keith Lowe.

The sub-branch celebrated its centenary last year and is busy planning to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Victory in the Pacific (VP) Day on August 15.