The annual Shoalhaven Digger Day this weekend will mark 100 years since the end of World War 1 and according to chairman Rick Meehan said the 2018 event is “going to be huge”.
It will be the seventh time the Nowra RSL Sub-Branch has hosted the popular Digger Day and the fifth local WWI centenary event.
“We will have 11 unbelievable people brought together for one unforgettable day and night,” Mr Meehan said.
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 and Rambahadur Limbu from Nepal and New Zealand's Willie Apiata.
Their decorations come from conflicts ranging from Korea, Malaysia-Indonesia, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq.
“It will be the first time at least one surviving VC recipient from every Commonwealth country has attended one event at the same time in Australia,” Mr Meehan said.
The VCs 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 formerly of 60 Minutes and author of the Lost Diggers book.
“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.
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].
The day kicks off with the now traditional rugby match at Shoalhaven Rugby Park, South Nowra between long-time rivals Shoals and Kiama.
Reserve grade starts the day at 10.30am, followed by the special guests being flown into the ground by navy helicopter just after noon. That will be followed by the first grade clash where both teams will wear specially designed commemorative jerseys.
Another special event prior to the weekend is an official book signing of author Michael C. Madden’s stunning book, The Victoria Cross, Australia Remembers on the 100 Australian Victoria Cross recipients.
Mr Madden will be signing copies of the book at the Shoalhaven Entertainment Centre on Thursday, July 26 between 10.30am and noon.