Forest Lake & Districts RSL Sub Branch members recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Sub Branch’s first meeting, which was held in late 1998. However, despite enjoying substantial growth then, the Sub Branch had no place to call home for 20 years.
The Forest Lake & Districts RSL Sub Branch boasts a tight-knit community of 127 League members and 61 social members, including two active foundation members. Most recently, the Sub Branch completed the refurbishment of its first clubhouse.
The Vision Behind the Clubhouse
Two of the Sub Branch’s dedicated committee members – District Delegate Dan Baldwin and Secretary Sharron Ford – shared the story of this ambitious project.
Dan joined the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) as an airman in 1969 and served for 22 years. In 1975, he was accepted to undergo a three-year tertiary degree and received his commission in 1977.
Since finishing his military career, Dan has thrown himself into various volunteer roles serving the Forest Lake community. He has been a member of his local RSL Sub Branch for seven years. Dan has been part of the Sub Branch’s assistance dog training program.
Sharron became involved in the Forest Lake RSL Sub Branch in 2017, after her husband Steve (a RAAF veteran) was first elected to the committee. She initially supported him as Assistant Secretary, before stepping up into her current role when Steve became President.
In the past, meetings with the Forest Lake & Districts RSL Sub Branch would usually be held at someone’s house or a golf club or somewhere else. Stemming from a momentous act of generosity from the local Nashos, the Sub Branch was gifted a derelict WWII building in the Wacol Heritage Precinct in 2019.
The heritage site, previously part of the Wacol Army Barracks, is also home to a chapel and hall, which are managed by the Nashos. It also houses the military museum by the Papua New Guinea Volunteer Rifles and Ex-members Association Inc.
Home, Sweet Home
In providing a home for the Sub Branch, a new space for veterans was born.
“For many years we searched for a place to call home. About three years ago, we started the rebuild and our members spent many hours demolishing the buildings’ contents to turn it into our clubhouse,” Dan says.
“However, COVID-19 quickly stopped our progress, so we couldn’t start work again until April 2021, and we’ve only been able to complete the final touches like pathways this year,” Sharron adds.
Although it took longer than planned, the finished space is a testament to the dedication and hard work of the Sub Branch community. Every part of the clubhouse has been thoughtfully designed for veterans and their families, from the handmade commemorative quilts and artworks decorating the walls to the barbecue lawn and communal hall where regular social gatherings are hosted.
Since 2023, the new clubhouse has been used for many events and meets with the members and their families.
To learn more about Forest Lake & Districts RSL Sub Branch or to arrange a visit, find their details here.