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More than 40 Anzac stories recorded in the Cheer-Up Hut!

Friday 10 June, 2016

The Anzac Centenary Cheer-Up Hut commenced its regional tour in May. First stop was the Mount Pleasant Soldiers Memorial Hall where Veterans SA collaborated with the local Mount Pleasant Community who had re-created a comprehensive display for the 2016 South Australian History Festival.

Put together by local historian Paula Bartsch and her team from the Mount Pleasant District Historical Research Group, the Cheer-Up Hut re-creation included carefully researched profiles of over 250 servicemen and servicewomen from the Mount Pleasant district. Donations of items for display came from around the community and included diaries and photographs, historical artefacts such as buttons, badges, uniforms, and household items, representative of World War I and World War II.

With support from the Mount Pleasant RSL, local branches of the Red Cross and Country Women’s Association, the Barossa Light Horse Historical Association and Mount Pleasant’s local schools, the Mount Pleasant Anzac Centenary Cheer-Up Hut attracted an estimated 700 patrons during the History Festival, which ran throughout May. No Cheer-Up Hut is complete without a piano, and local piano players came out to play a few war time tunes, much to the delight of patrons lucky enough to be visiting the hut at the time.

The Cheer-Up Hut recording booth was open from Friday 27 to Monday 30 May to provide locals with an opportunity to record their Anzac stories with support from digital storytelling experts, Illuminart. Contributors included Michael Seager, his sister Genevieve Miell and their cousin John Murray, who are direct descendants of the founder of the Cheer-Up Hut Our Boys Society, Alexandrina Seager. Michael and wife Margaret Seager’s grandchildren had also contributed to the display, including a moving poem written by 14yr old Alexandra Seager, which you can read here.

The Barossa Council supported the event, assisting with promotion of the opportunity to see the exhibition through local government channels and local media.

The weekend prior, also as part of the 2016 History Festival, the Cheer-Up Hut was re-created inside the Drill Hall at Torrens Parade Ground. This display hosted a wonderful Red Cross event involving more than 30 volunteers who were entertained by pianist Barry Hall with Cabaret artists Phyl Skinner. Bob Jarrad also read poetry from his collection of poems titled Slouch Hat Soldiers.

Students from Findon High and Medindie High, who were part of the 2015 Connecting Spirits Tour, presented stories of their experiences, including a short film featuring original music composed by one of the students who had discovered that the Anzac she had researched had lived in the house she now lived in with her family in Medindie!

Julie Reece, founder of Connecting Spirits program, spoke about the strong connection the students made with the Anzacs they had each researched. “Their capacity to empathise with these young people from an earlier generation and understand the horrific experiences they had endured on the Western Front, was remarkable – they particularly resonated with the fact that they were not much older than they were.”

Veterans SA will now work with the contributors to turn the stories recorded into digital essays and short films for upload onto the state’s dedicated Anzac Centenary website. They, amongst others, will be included in the state’s Anzac Centenary Time Capsule scheduled for harvest in November 2018.

Next stop for the Cheer-Up Hut is Mount Gambier Library, located at 6 Watson Terrace in Mount Gambier from Friday 16 to Monday 19 September inclusive. For more information on the Cheer-Up Hut, including how to become of the Cheer-Up Hut Club click  here. 

Click here to see the Gallery of Images from the Drill Hall and Mount Pleasant Cheer-Up Huts. 



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