By Abbey Cannan
Noosaville local, John Reid’s connection to Australia’s service community runs deep, having lost his Veteran father when he was just two-years-old, and having served himself.
Following in his father’s footsteps, John, 77, joined the army as a Surveyor, and was deployed to New Guinea where he carried out mapping operations.
“I don’t have a memory of my father but I just know that he wasn’t well after he returned from fighting in the Middle East and New Guinea,” John said.
“My mum re-married so I had a really wonderful Step-Dad who was also a veteran. In terms of following in their footsteps, I was a national serviceman so I didn’t have a choice.
“My birthday got drawn out of a barrel by a celebrity and they said ‘You’re in the army for two years’. That was in the Vietnam era and I was a surveyor at the time. I went to New Guinea for nine months doing mapping.”
After retiring from the army, John became a Legatee for Legacy Brisbane in 1996, allowing him to give back to the families of veterans, offering them the same support that he and his mother received all those years ago.
“I felt that as soon as I had enough spare time on my hands that I would join Legacy. It’s terrific,” he said.
“I remember when I was a child, Legacy helping us with dental work and getting support from being able to talk to them. My mum got a lot of support and we ended up in a war service home through the government.
“I can remember a big pile of dirt arriving in the yard one day and a whole lot of guys with wheelbarrows and shovels and rakes showing up. That was the Legatees and they planted shrubs and spread and seeded the soil. I can remember the sprinkler going on it and when the grass grew, I was able to run under the sprinkler, as kids do.
“We still have that Backyard Assist program today, helping any widower who can’t handle their backyard. The Legatees attack a backyard and bring it under control.”
John has been living in Noosaville since 2010, and has continued his work with Legacy Brisbane, supporting countless Veterans and their families.
Founded in 1923 on a promise made from one digger to another to “look after the missus and kids”, Legacy supports the families of our servicemen and women who have lost their lives or their health as a result of their service.
Today, 100 years on, Legacy supports over 43,000 people across Australia offering financial, social connection and development support services.
“It would be nice if Legacy had no reason to exist because that would mean we had no people who have served in combat zones but unfortunately that’s not the case,” John said.
Following Remembrance Day, John is encouraging Sunshine Coast locals to support Legacy Brisbane’s work, and its ground-breaking new Legacy House project, donating via bringithome.org.au.
Legacy House will offer a ‘single front door’ for a range of support services for Queensland Veterans and their families, simplifying the process of receiving life changing care and support.
A multi-million-dollar development, Legacy House’s Model of Care was informed by Legacy Brisbane CEO Brendan Cox’s years of national and international study, as well as his own experience as a veteran.
The Queensland State Government will contribute $3 million to the Legacy House project, adding to a recent donation by Gina Rinehart in what was the project’s largest philanthropic donation to date.
Sunshine Coast Legacy Group is always in need of new Legatees and anyone interested can contact Chairperson Rhondda Poor on 0418 184 402.