RSL Victoria’s annual Australia Day Achievement Medallions have been awarded to four deserving recipients this year.
Brian Neal, Jan Gallagher, Kerry Hewson and Harry Beckwith Junior have been honoured for their outstanding performances with the RSL.
“You have been recognised because you have volunteered for the RSL, either within a Sub-Branch or directly for us at ANZAC House. A sincere thank you for the work you do and the time you so freely give,” said RSL Victoria President, Dr Robert Webster OAM.
Brian Neal – Upwey-Belgrave RSL Sub-Branch
Brian has been a long-time volunteer for RSL Victoria and has been instrumental in planning ANZAC Day over the past 30 years.
His volunteer work also spans other commemorative services RSL Victoria conducts throughout the year, including Remembrance Day.
In his so-called spare time, Brian is the Museum Curator at the Upwey-Belgrave RSL and was made a Life Member of the League in 2017.
Outside of the RSL, Brian also generously gives of his time to the Country Fire Authority (CFA).
It is said of Brian, “give a busy person a job and it will get done – if you give Brian a job you know it will not only get done, but it will get done well.”
“I’m just so proud to be here,” said Brian.
Jan Gallagher – Seaford RSL Sub-Branch
A member of the RSL since 1993, Jan is the current Treasurer of the Seaford RSL Sub-Branch, thanks to the vast financial knowledge she gained from her time with Defence and Budgets.
In 2017, Jan took an active role in RSL Welfare and has assisted many veterans over the years.
Jan has also proudly taken on the role of Schools Liaison Officer, assisting all of Seaford RSL Sub-Branch’s Appeals, Commemoration and applying for DVA grants.
Sher has also taken on the important roles of RSL Raffles volunteer, assists with the Veterans Coffee Club and arranges outings for veterans around Melbourne.
Jan has also been a tireless volunteer for many Naval Associations and is described as highly thought of within the veteran community.
“I’m honoured, I do what I can do,” she said after receiving her Medallion.
Kerry Hewson – Sunshine RSL Sub-Branch
Kerry has been an Affiliate Member of the Sub-Branch since 2014, but has been an advocate of the RSL’s work for many years prior to that, encouraging others to support RSL activities whenever possible.
For many years, Kerry has volunteered to assist with the ANZAC and Poppy Appeals, and is always happy to assist whether it be for the newsletters or functions.
She was a member of the Sub-Branch committee in 2018 and 2019, serving as Honorary Treasurer and has continued to support the President with various projects as required.
“My most significant job would probably be collating the Presidents of the RSL since its formation because the RSL didn’t have that information.”
Away from the RSL, Kerry has also dedicated countless hours to the Sunshine & District Historical Society.
“I’m grateful and very humbled [to be recognised]. I don’t really feel as deserving as others within the RSL, but I guess some of the things I do are valuable.”
Harry Beckwith Junior – Sunbury RSL Sub-Branch
For the past 10 years, Harry has been the Secretary of the Sunbury Sub-Branch.
On top of those responsibilities, Harry also undertakes pensions and welfare work, volunteers for the two annual Appeals, organises ANZAC and Remembrance Day events, and is a Funeral Officer.
What Harry is known best for is organising the ANZAC Vigil, which is currently in its fifth year and takes place at the Sunbury War Memorial.
“The Vigil is a very moving tribute and we applaud Harry for this initiative.”
As the Chairman of Region 7, which spans as far north as Swan Hill on the border to Sunbury in the South and includes 25 Sub-Branches, Harry coordinates meetings and helps Sub-Branches with various issues as they arise.
Harry is described as a “very handy bloke to have around!”
“I don’t do it for self-gratification. I was fortunate. I grew up where my grandfather and father returned home from the World Wars. A number of kids didn’t have that. I got deferred from National Service, but I decided it was time to help because my father was still alive and to help the others that never had the opportunity. That’s why I do it.”
RSL Victoria congratulates the 2024 recipients of the Australia Day Achievement Medallion!