The 2018 Digger Day events set down for Saturday, July 28 has officially been launched, with this year’s event to mark 100 years since the end of World War 1 set to be bigger and better than ever.
Digger Day chairman Rick Meehan and vice-chairman Fred Campbell said this year’s event was “going to be huge”.
As well as the now traditional rugby match at Shoalhaven Rugby Park, South Nowra between long-time rivals Shoals and Kiama, a gala charity ball will be held on the evening, boasting an amazing group of Australia’s and the Commonwealth’s highest decorated servicemen and civilians.
“We will have 11 unbelievable people brought together for one unforgettable day and night,” Mr Meehan said.
“They will all be special guests at the rugby, flown in by helicopters from HMAS Albatross before taking part in the official ceremony before heading to the gala charity ball.
“It will be one of the biggest events Nowra has ever seen.
“We started organising this event two and a half years ago, so it’s been a long time in the making.
“You don’t get the chance very often to meet people of this status but you will over this weekend.
“It’s a once in a lifetime event and it’s going to be held right here in the Shoalhaven. It's not going to a capital city, something very special for our area. Something that might not ever happen again.”
Mr Campbell said the Digger Day concept has been operating in the Shoalhaven since 2012 and has grown bigger each year.
“This year to mark the end of World War I will be huge,” he said.
The Digger Day concept has proven so successful that an RSL Sub-Branch in Adelaide has also picked up the idea and will be having an AFL event on April 21.
There will be five Victorian Cross recipients from around the world, headed by Australia’s Keith Payne, the UK’s Johnson Beharry and Bill Speakman, Rambahadur Limbu from Nepal and New Zealand's Willie Apiata.
Their decorations come from conflicts ranging from Korea, Malaysia-Indonesia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
They will be joined by six men who have received an equivalent civilian honour, George Cross recipient Michael Pratt and Cross of Valour recipients Darrell Tree, Victor Boscoe, Allan Sparkes, Tim Britten and Richard Joyes.
They will be interviewed on the evening by award winning journalists Ross Coulthart of 60 Minutes and author of the Lost Diggers book.
Read more: Digger Day 2017
“It will be a chance to hear their remarkable stories and share in the emotions in this once in a lifetime event,” Mr Meehan said.
Author Michael C. Madden, who has produced a stunning book The Victoria Cross, Australia Remembers on the 100 Australian Victoria Cross recipients will also be present to explain some of the stories behind the stories of Australia’s VC recipients.
The gala charity ball will be held at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre.
Tickets are $350 each of $3000 for a table of 10 and are available from the entertainment centre.
The evening will run for six hours from 6pm, there will be interviews with each VC or George Cross and Cross of Valour recipient as well as entertainment from three bands. The cost also includes a two-course dinner and wine and beer. All guests will also receive a copy of Mr Madden’s Victoria Cross book.
Funds raised from the event support the Totally and Permanently Incapacitated veterans [TPI].
For more information on the day’s activities contact Rick Meehan on 0428 443361.