One woman’s idea brought more than 200 people to Wimbie Beach this morning, in solemn gratitude for those who gave their lives in service to Australia.
Last month Eurobodalla treasure Dawn Simpson asked for donations of glass jars for her Anzac memorial – a row of candles along Wimbie Beach to commemorate the men from the region who had fought and died in WWI.
She hoped for 500 jars, so she could light a candle for each Eurobodalla man who had served. Last year, Dawn and four others lit 300 candles on the beach, which she says resembles Anzac Cove in many ways.
This year, thanks to the warm support of the community, 700 candles lined Wimbie Beach before the sun broke over the horizon on Anzac Day.
The gathering grew a little too.
“A couple of people I didn’t know came up the beach, so I said good morning,” Dawn said.
“Then more came and more came and then all the parking was gone at Newth place.
“People started to park over the road at Wimbie Street – there were even people who didn’t know Wimbie Beach was there. One girl parked over at Surf Beach and walked around because she could see the candles.”
Dawn, a veteran public speaker, was so overcome she could barely speak to the crowd. One volunteer said the Ode, while Dawn and Lilli Pilli woman Georgie Rowley went up the hill and sounded the Last Post over a bluetooth speaker.
“We’ll need something a bit louder for the Last Post next year,” Dawn said.
“I just said my speech of gratitude and thanks for the Anzac’s service, another lady said the Ode.
“I wanted to keep it a little meeting on the beach, with no politicians making speeches, just for everyone to come in peace and quiet and pay their respects and experience that gratitude.
“And that’s what everyone did. It was just beautiful. I think I hugged about a hundred people today.”
Afterwards, there was a magnificent sunrise, as well as juice, coffee, Anzac biscuits and croissants for any hungry tummies.
Dawn said the immense gratitude she feels for her own life helped inspire the event.
Never one to rest on her laurels, she already has plans for next year’s service.
“Some people had jars they couldn’t get to me this year – I told them to hang onto them for next year,” she said.
“If we can get a few more I’ll put names on all the candles, so if any descendants of people who served are there they can walk along the beach and find their candle.
“If anyone has a diary extract or a letter from a family member who served that they would like to read we could do that. I don’t want to make it really big, but that could be nice.
“It’s just about quiet reflection in your own way, gratitude in a peaceful way, and respect at all times.
“I am so grateful for my life, I have had a really good life. I am thankful every day I have a nice warm bed, a roof over my head and food on my table, and my world could be very, very different if those brave men and women hadn’t gone and fought.
“I want this to go on after I’m gone, and hopefully by then there will be so many candles I can see them from heaven!”