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Tuesday, 27 November 2018
Page: 11712


Mr WATTS (Gellibrand) (16:19): I rise to congratulate the Footscray-Yarraville City Band for their successful tour of the United Kingdom, France and Belgium to commemorate the centenary of the armistice that ended World War I. Footscray-Yarraville City Band is a longstanding institution in my electorate in Melbourne's west. Established in 1961, the band formed through merging several bands, the oldest of which was established in 1883. For over 100 years the band has entertained our community, particularly at the Whitten Oval, contested national competitions and toured around Australia and the world.

For the centenary of the Armistice of World War I, the band wanted to do something special for themselves and our community. Supported by the Anzac Centenary Local Grants Program, the band wrote and produced a show, The Silent Anzac, that honours the sacrifices of Australian service men and women during World War I. In addition to performing this original work around Melbourne, the band wanted to take the show to Europe and the United Kingdom, to commemorate our fallen soldiers with the communities where our soldiers fought and died. The Silent Anzac is not just about performing and remembering our fallen soldiers; the band wanted to engage with the community too. Throughout 2018 the band embarked on a roadshow, where they encouraged schools and community groups to participate in The Silent Anzac project. The roadshow included displays of World War I memorabilia and talks about World War I history. Schools, community groups and councils donated wreaths and handmade poppies that the band took with them to Europe.

On the tour, the band performed The Silent Anzac at the Australian Embassy in Paris; Le Hamel in France, the site of General Sir John Monash's most famous battles; and Australia House in London. The band also performed at centenary of Armistice ceremonies in Belgium and in France. In Belgium the band played hymns and paid their respects to the 55,000 men whose names are etched at Menin Gate but whose bodies were never recovered. Over 6,000 of those names are of Australian soldiers, including 16 from Yarraville and Footscray, in my electorate. After performing at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France, the band laid wreaths donated by members of the public, local community organisations and local councils, and hundreds of poppies handmade by students from Altona Primary School and Box Hill North Primary School.

I want to congratulate the 25 members of The Silent Anzac project team, for the hard work that they put in to make the tour happen, and the 46 people who went on the tour, for the great job they did representing our community. Special thanks to Colin Harrison, without whose hard work The Silent Anzac could not have happened; Phillipa Edwards, the band's musical director and creator of the show; Lorraine Wright and John Hoppe, who did brilliant jobs fundraising and coordinating with other organisations; and Jamie Lawson, who helped whenever it was needed. Finally I would also like to give a shout-out to Joanne Mathrick at Altona Primary School and Jessica Riley at Box Hill North Primary School, for their hard work in engaging their students in the project.