RSLWA’s 2020 Australia Day and Cadet of the Year Awards

PASSION, humility and a willingness to help their fellow Veterans has seen four shining lights of our community honoured with ANZAC Day Awards.

The annual awards, held last night at the City of Belmont RSL Sub-Branch, also included the Cadet of the Year Awards.


CEO John McCourt was MC of proceedings, while RSLWA Vice-President Donna Prytulak OAM – herself recently honoured with an Order of Australia Medal for her many years’ service to Veterans and their families – presented the four very worthy recipients with their 2020 Australia Day Council Medallions.

Here they are:

                                                                                                                                      Colonel Geoff Simpson

Geoff has been Deputy Warden to nine different Wardens and responsible for more than 380 commemorative events at the State War Memorial.

Colonel Geoff Simpson OAM was appointed Deputy Warden of the State War Memorial in Kings Park on 11 November,2011.

Since then, Geoff has been Deputy Warden to nine different Wardens and has been responsible for the preparation and execution of over 380 commemorative events at the State War Memorial. This has meant high demands on his personal and family time. Had he not taken leave over this time, the list of his accomplishments would have been significantly higher.

Geoff has supported three State Presidents, three WA Governors, three CEOs and hosted numerous Federal and State Ministers along with members of the Royal Family. Over 100 organisations have held ceremonies at Kings Park during his appointment.

His role has been crucial to RSLWA’s custody of the State War Memorial and his liaison with the Botanic Gardens Park Authority has been exemplary. Geoff has ensured a high standard of ceremonial practice among members of the Honour Guard and has drawn praise from attendees at Kings Park for ANZAC Day Dawn Services, Remembrance Day and special commemorations by local, national and international associations, Ambassadors, Consul-Generals and other dignitaries.

For his exceptional and selfless service, Geoff Simpson is awarded the 2020 Australia Day Medallion.

                                                                                                                                       Peter Dempsey

Peter Dempsey is a valued and prominent member of Cannington Sub-Branch who continues to serve – and serve well.

Peter Dempsey is 85 years of age and retired – as he should be – after a life of giving his best to the RSL. Yet he continues to serve and serve well.

Peter is a valued and prominent member of the Cannington RSL Sub-Branch and continues to contribute to this beloved Sub-Branch as well as the local community. He has is dedicated himself to a myriad of important tasks including assisting in community collections each and every Poppy Day.

Peter is always the first to put his hand up to help, whatever the need, ensuring the Sub-Branch property looks the best it can be and often showing community members around.

He tends to the memorial garden and the cenotaph and does so with passion and pride.  Peter doubles his efforts leading up to Anzac Day and Remembrance Day each year to ensure that the property is at its best. The maintenance and repairs to of the reticulation system is matched by tending to the extensive car park so that it’s neat and tidy.

Add to all of this, efforts selling raffle tickets at functions, being Marshall on ANZAC Days and doing many other odd jobs around the place.

Peter is quietly spoken, always polite, and willing to acknowledge others.

Quite simply, Peter Dempsey is a class act and a very worthy recipient of the 2020 Australia Day Medallion.

                                                                                                                                 Steve Elliott

Steve Elliott is a man of vision, persistence and integrity – and one who just gets on with business of doing things for the betterment of his Port Kennedy RSL Sub-Branch.

Port Kennedy President Steve Elliott has steered his Sub-Branch into much smoother financial waters.

Steve became President of the Port Kennedy Sub-Branch some seven years ago after the Sub-Branch had been in a period of administration.

His leadership and management has led the Sub-Branch to a membership of 1800, including 700 Service Members, 220 Affiliates and a large contingent of supportive Social Members. He has literally steered the Sub-Branch to have greater relevance to the defence community in the region, including a close association with HMAS Ballarat involving welcoming and farewelling deployed naval personnel.

Steve has also ensured the Sub-Branch’s continued liaison with local schools. Through his motivation and good governance, Steve’s efforts were in no short measure the reason why the Sub-Branch won the Ken Bladen Recruiting Shield at State Congress. This award recognises the most outstanding Sub-Branch for the recruitment of new members in proportion to existing memberships.

For his commitment and dedication to the Sub-Branch he leads, Steve is a worthy recipient of the 2020 ANZAC Day Medallion.

                                                                                                                         WOFF Jennine Riches

Warrant Officer Jen Riches, currently based at Royal Australian Air Force Base Pearce, has been an outstanding supporter of RSLWA.

WOFF Jen Riches was extremely humbled to receive her award.

WOFF Riches has often been the first to put up her hand to assist RSLWA, especially in ceremonial and in supporting Veterans through RSLWA’s fundraising efforts.

In 2019, WOFF Riches provided invaluable assistance in advising the staff on the new RSLWA Ceremonial and Protocol Manual. CEO John McCourt said that in his military career, he had seen none better.

Jen Riches has also been a tower of support in the planning for RSLWA’s running of ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day services, especially Catafalque Party protocols.

Warrant Officer Riches’ military career includes operational deployments in the Middle East and East Timor, and her military medals include the Australian Active Service Medal, the Australian Operational Service Medal the Afghanistan Medal and Long Service medal.

Jen Riches recently travelled to East Timor to mark the 20th Anniversary of her service with INTERFET.

RSLWA salutes WOFF Jen Riches as a standout member of the Australian Defence Force who is regarded by RSLWA as a highly valued volunteer.

Cadet of The Year Awards

Bill Collidge RFD, Chair of the RSLWA Youth Development and Cadet Support Committee, announced the recipients of the Cadet Awards.

The awards are for the most proficient Cadet in each of the three ADFC streams, in the form of a significant and appropriate book prize accompanied by a certificate presented by the Trustees of RSLWA.

The most proficient Cadet for the year is decided by the Headquarters of each of the three Cadet services – based on individual performance.

Nominations are managed by RSLWA Youth Development and Cadet Support Committee in conjunction with the Trustees of RSLWA.

Australian Navy Cadets 

The award for the most proficient Navy Cadet Western Australia Flotilla went to Cadet Able Seaman Edward Kammermann from TS CANNING. This award was presented to him by the RSL Trustees at the TS Canning Awards night last month.

Australian Army Cadets

The award for most proficient Cadet – WA BDE AAC for the training year goes to Cadet Under-Officer Blake Leask – 53 ACU Wanneroo. The award was presented to Blake at the WA AAC BDE Parade last October.

Australian Air Force Cadets

The award for the most proficient Air Force Cadet for the training year went to CDT WOFF Sarah Foster – 715 (City of Belmont) Squadron. The award was presented to Sarah at the Graduation Parade of the CUO Course at RAAF Pearce earlier this month.

 The RSLWA Cadet Efficiency Shield

The Cadet Efficiency Shield is presented by RSLWA in conjunction with Hollywood Private Hospital and the Australian Military Bank in order to ensure there is appropriate recognition of the efforts of Service Cadet Units throughout the training year. This prestigious annual award is made to the most efficient Cadet Unit in each of the three services. The four overall winners of the Spirit of ANZAC Award, in “Service” order, for 2019 are:

ANC- CDT LS Hannah Fryer, a year 11 ATAR student at Safety Bay Senior High School. Her hobbies include photography and snorkelling. Her career goal is to become a primary school teacher.

AAC – CDT LCPL Molly Allen, a year 12 student at Duncraig Senior High School. She enjoys surfing and taking part in school musicals. Her career plan is to join the ADF and train to become a Medical Officer in 2022.

AAFC – CDT FLT SGT Natashia Jorgensen, currently in year 12 at Melville Senior High School. She is the Cadet Squadron Warrant Officer at 703 (City of Fremantle) Squadron and Drum Major of 718 (Ceremonial) Flight. Upon completing school, her plan is to on join the RAAF as a pilot then converting onto the C-17 Globemaster.

 CADETS WA – CDT Tom Fox – is going into Year 11 at Christ Church Grammar School and enjoys all things in and around the water and aspire to be a good leader in whatever career path and community organisations I choose.

Well done and congratulations to all!

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