Newsletter February 2019

02/20/19 05:23:pm

President's Report
Boer War Memorial Society WA

It is yet again an honour and privilege to be re-elected as your President at the AGM in 2018. During 2018 the BWMS WA has been continuing on its business through change and review. It was our first year as an independent society since the Canberra Boer War Memorial was commissioned in 2017 and the National Boer War Association body now dissolved. During 2018 was also the 116th year since the signing of the Peace Treaty at Vereeniging to end the Boer War.
The Western Australian Boer War memorial commemoration and reconciliation held on Sunday 27th May 2018, on a wet and stormy day was once again well attended and it was pleasing to see so many wreaths laid and young children in attendance that has been the norm for the last few years. The message that is portrayed of the Boer War service men and women and associated others, as the original ANZACS, is gaining acceptance although still a long and winding road to travel to full acceptance at all levels. I want to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers for their support on the day that once again saw the event operate with military precision. Also thank you to MC, Col Mike Page RFD, ADC and Senator Linda Reynolds CDC as the key note speaker. We also thank all who attended and participated in safeguarding the ceremony as a prominent fixture each year on the Western Australian calendar.
The society also thanks those invited guests in attending on the commemoration and reconciliation event including a number of state politicians. The day would not be complete without Bob Wise and his Westralian Great War Living Association team providing the Catafalque party. The fine bugler from Churchlands Senior High and the Boys Brigade who return each year to assist. Without them all and the attendees the reconciliation and commemoration would not continue. Special mention to our song bird, Moira Wilson, and the choir who added that musical animation on the day.
The society has and maintains pressure on the Minister of Veterans Affairs, of Western Australia, to have the state government gazette the day. Talks have also been undertaken with the opposition member. To date we have had no traction with the letters and meetings presented. The biggest hurdle is many assume that the Boer War has support from the Returned Soldiers League (RSL) but this is also a challenge as the Boer War precedes the commencement of the RSL and acknowledgement and financial support is nominal. It has been suggested that the BWMS WA march on ANZAC Day parade but this has been received with indifferent response. A significant donation to the RSL recently from the state government overlooked our society and assumed that we may benefit indirectly via the RSL, but this is not to be.
Our long suffering Secretary, Kevin Bovill was stuck down early in 2018 with a dilapidating stroke which has resulted in his resignation from the Western Australian society and he has since moved temporarily to another state, NSW although I believe it won’t be long before his return to the best state in Australia, WA. I cannot express nor validate the enormous contribution that Kevin has given the Western Australian Society. Kevin was the main Western Australian driver in the society inception and also the driver in regard the significant donation from our Society to the commemoration memorial in Canberra. He is a passionate person of honour and persistence and like others I am in aura of the literary genius of the English language that he crafts in his written correspondence to many in concerns of all things Boer War. We wish him every success in his new endeavours and lifestyle. I would say, with confidence, that we haven’t heard the last of Kevin yet. In wishing Kevin all the best from the society I want to thank Paul Prickett CSM in taking up the challenge as secretary, with the sudden departure of Kevin, Paul shall bring a different style but no less passionate approach to the role. My sincere thanks to you, Paul, for taking up the challenge at short notice, much appreciated. Paul was elected at the 2018 AGM for a further term as Secretary of the society. Paul also was honoured in the Australia Day Awards in 2018 with the appointment of Conspicuous Service Medal (CSM). From the BWMS WA, our sincere congratulations on this well-earned award.
The society, being a NFP organisation, relies on funding from limited sources which is hard to come by and scarce for a society such as ours as we are the fridge dwellers of the ANZAC story. Grants such as Anzac Day trust fund-grant application do not fit within Boer War existence. The society does recognise the valued contribution by Chevron who last year committed $1K to our society and we are trusting again in 2019 that this grant is once again generously provided to us. As a society we are seeking every opportunity to apply for grants as it is important to be able to hold the Commemoration and reconciliation ceremony annually with these funds.
During 2018 the society was bestowed a complete newspaper printed in early 1890’s with articles depicting the Boer War which we are in the process of seeking the best way to preserve this amazing artefact . We are extremely honoured to have received this amazing piece of history.
The society has had a reasonable amount of media coverage in regards the commemoration and reconciliation service and many stories relating to the Boer War. This effort utilising a number of medians is important to allow the general public of Western Australia knowledge of the existence of the society and the work we do. I urge you all to send in articles and photos to your local newspaper and further establish our presence of all things Boer War. Recently we received a grant from Lotterywest to establish a web site which is close to being live. Thank you to Lotterywest for the generous grant and to the BWMS WA committee led by our Treasurer Brendan Cook in seeing this become live and further allowing the society a presence in a new median. Once we are live we shall let all our memberships know.
The society continues to seek a permanent home. We have a few opportunities that have not as yet come to fruition. Finding a home for the society shall allow proprietorship and more importantly consolidating our future growth. It is also important to find an ambassador for our society and a financial benefactor who can support our cause which is also a task as the Boer War is not one that is openly recognisable. Within our membership and those we have connected with we need to broadcast for a likely person, corporate or business. We are striving for more General Meetings to include friends and descendants gathering once we find a static home or suitable venue.
I also thank the WA BWMS committee for their tiresome work and dedication in maintaining the momentum in recognizing and remembering the Boer War so it is not forgotten for the importance it has in taking its place in shaping our nations character and history.
I wish all members a safe and prosperous year in 2019 and hope to see, as many as possible at the reconciliation and commemoration service in June.
David Thomas
President BWMS WA 2019.

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“The Society is grateful to Ms. Gwen Wheatley for her article on Henry George “Harry” Vialls that is featured in this newsletter.”