Bomaderry bingo bonanza

BIG WIN: Nowra RSL Sub Branch secretary and Digger Day co-ordinator, Rick Meehan (front) gets into the fund-raising spirit with members of the Bomaderry RSL Club Charity Trust Committee, chairman Chris Hayward, Julie Mather, Tilly Drake and Stacey Flentjar with Bomaderry RSL secretary manager Brett Hills.

BIG WIN: Nowra RSL Sub Branch secretary and Digger Day co-ordinator, Rick Meehan (front) gets into the fund-raising spirit with members of the Bomaderry RSL Club Charity Trust Committee, chairman Chris Hayward, Julie Mather, Tilly Drake and Stacey Flentjar with Bomaderry RSL secretary manager Brett Hills.

Nowra RSL Sub Branch secretary Rick Meehan is an ideas man.

He is always coming up with some way to support and promote veterans.

But his latest idea to promote Digger Day, for which he is co-ordinator, needed some major financial assistance.

Mr Meehan has staged Digger Day in conjunction with Shoalhaven Rugby Club at Shoalhaven Rugby Park for the past few years, raising more than $20,000 to help veteran support groups such as Soldier On and to provide care packages for personnel currently deployed overseas.

For the centenary of Anzac in 2015 Mr Meehan has big plans.

He wants to mark the special occasion with an event in Nowra to rival activities being staged around the world to commemorate the occasion.

“My aim is to have the five Anzac Victoria Cross recipients in the Shoalhaven for Digger Day which will be staged on August 8, 2015,” he said.

“I want to have Keith Payne, Mark Donaldson, Ben Roberts-Smith, Daniel Keighran and Kiwi Willie Apiata here for the celebration.”

Getting those five men together in the one place, at the one time, is a huge undertaking on its own.

Always one to think outside the square, Mr Meehan aims to make the event even bigger by inviting British VC recipient Johnson Beharry all the way from London for the occasion.

“We will be issuing an invitation to Mr Beharry and his wife and son to be special guests at the event and also stay in the Shoalhaven for a week,” he said.

“I think if I can get the UK VC recipient here, the Aussie guys will also turn up.”

To make it happen Mr Meehan needed $20,000 to cover the costs of bringing the family to Australia.

Mr Meehan chipped in $2000 of his own money to kick start his dream but had no idea where he would raise the remaining funds.

Enter the Bomaderry RSL Club Charity Trust Committee, a volunteer group of women who stage Cash Bingo at the club each Thursday and Saturday.

Money raised from their fund-raising efforts is donated back to the community.

After hearing a presentation on Mr Meehan’s plan the group has agreed to provide the remaining $18,000 to help make his dream a reality.

“I honestly don’t know what to say,” Mr Meehan said.

“I was totally blown away when the Bomaderry RSL Charity Trust Committee agreed to fund my plans.

“Of course, it is all contingent on Mr Beharry accepting our invitation.

“If he says no, I will give the money back to the ladies and they can donate it to another local organisation to use.”

Through Digger Day and his many other activities Mr Meehan aims to hold events that give veterans the respect, support and recognition they deserve.

“We cannot ignore our veterans as was the case after Vietnam,” he said.

“This nation lost more than 40 diggers and another 260 received serious physical injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan, but more alarming there are probably thousands suffering psychological injuries like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression from their experiences.”

The 2014 Digger Day will be staged on August 2.

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