Around 40 people gathered in the garden area of Swifts Creekʼs Albion Hotel to honour the extraordinary achievement of resident, Blake Hollonds, last month.
Seventy years ago, on return from active service after World War II, Blake determined to assist the widows and children of those who did not come home. Joining Legacy on July 16, 1949, he became one of the founding members of the East Gippsland group.
Considering that Blake has always attended the monthly Legacy meetings in Bairnsdale, it seemed fitting that after 70 years, the meeting should come to him.
“I feel very attached to the decision my father, Nelson Capp, made in selecting you on to the original committee for East Gippsland Legacy. I can still clearly remember a discussion between my parents about your youthfulness as a newly discharged soldier,” former Bairnsdale resident and fellow Legatee, John Capp OAM, wrote.
Mr Capp’s letter was read aloud on the day.
“Your name will be registered in the Archives of Melbourne Legacy as the first Legatee to achieve 70 years of service,” it said.
Although the Legacy pledge is one of no praise or publicity, fellow East Gippsland members did not want to let the occasion pass without due recognition.
A small bronze plaque was commissioned with the view to having it installed in a permanent location in Blake’s hometown.
Adding further significance to the day, MP Tim Bull travelled especially for the ceremony and to present the plaque.
His presence was meaningful with Blake having served in Legacy with three generations of Tim’s family; grandfather Joe, father David and brother Peter.
With his usual vigour and clarity, Blake addressed the gathering, recalling the early days after the war when the need was great, times were hard, and there was no money.
His philosophy: “you see a need – and you make it happen, don’t worry about the money, it will come”.
He recalled that in the early years Legacy members raised funds collecting used tyres and wool bales (neither very profitable ventures) and eventually raised fattened steers, which turned out to be more successful.
Blake also pointed out that the community always rallied with support and that the need for the work of Legacy had not diminished as the families of deceased veterans age and might need more assistance.
Now in his 95th year, Blake still makes it to Bairnsdale each month. He prefers the meetings in the evening to lunch time as he does not like to lose daylight hours he can spend working around his property.
His enthusiasm has not diminished, he remains an inspiration and a much-valued member of Legacy and the East Gippsland Legacy Group.
PICTURED: East Gippsland Legacy president, John Patterson, and local MP, Tim Bull, celebrated the achievements of Swifts Creek resident, Blake Hollonds (centre), last month.