The ANZAC Bikkie Tin’s Story.
After the RCA Biennial Conference in Ballarat on 6 May, we attended the Ballarat Airforce Association’s luncheon. Along with me were; Rodger and Rachel from the Ballarat Ryder-Cheshire Support Group and Carolyn and Minna from Ryder-Cheshire Foundation New Zealand.
We enjoyed a pleasant lunch, camaraderie and music from the Ballarat U3A Ukulele Club plus a movie about the making of the Dam Busters.
The luncheon was our opportunity to say thank you to BAFA and U3A for allowing Ryder-Cheshire to use their Hut 48 at the Ballarat Airport venue for the Biennial Conference. We presented a Certificate of Appreciation to the President, Peter Dowling.
Sometime back as we were preparing for the Biennial, Peter invited us to give a talk to BAFA about Ryder-Cheshire. Given that Leonard Cheshire was a well-known and highly decorated RAF pilot in WW2, the group was very interested in our work.
We explained that Leonard had visited Ballarat on 5 May 1964 to a packed public meeting at the Civic Hall, some 900 people. One of the BAFA members, Gordon, put his hand up to ask a question as I thought! He told us that he was at that meeting as a young person, with his father. We continued the presentation, after which I went over to Gordon to talk further about the Civic Hall meeting and here is what Gordon emotionally told me.
He firstly explained that Ryder-Cheshire was like an angel as an answer to something he had been wanting to do for so long. He had a strong need to go to Timor-Leste ever since WW2. He was not sure how to do this until this very day.
Gordon’s father was a photographer in WW2. He was strapped into a special harness which hung out the window of the plane flying over what was then Portuguese Timor taking significant photographs for strategic war operations. The plane was a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber which could fly up to 300 miles per hour.
Gordon wanted to visit Timor-Leste to honour his father, but did not know how to go about this until we arrived to talk about Ryder-Cheshire. The work of Klibur Domin gave an answer to his long held wish. We exchanged emails. Sadly, Gordon is unable to visit Timor-Leste due to his health.
Now to the story of the ANZAC bikkie tin.
After we thanked BAFA at the luncheon, Peter asked me to remain at the front. Gordon took centre stage holding an ANZAC bikkie tin.
This is for you. I hope you like ANZAC bikkies?
Yes, of course. They are my favourites.
Well, these are extra special ANZAC bikkies. Open the lid and look inside.
I did as he said. I looked in the tin and to my absolute surprise there were no bikkies in the tin, instead sitting on the bottom was a stack of $100 notes!!! Special, really special ANZAC bikkies!
These are for Klibur Domin. I cannot get to Timor-Leste so I want Klibur Domin to have these special ANZAC bikkies to help their people. Ryder-Cheshire is the angel who answered my wish and here is a photo of the angel. She is one of the statues in the Ballarat Botanic Gardens. She is the one who answered me.
Tears welled in my eyes and I needed to compose myself to be able to gratefully accept this amazing gift.
There was $3000. This such a beautiful gift so kindly donated by Gordon to assist the people in Timor-Leste through the work at Klibur Domin. We were delightfully shocked, but ever so appreciative of such compassion for others in memory of a special person.
Here we were at the luncheon to say thank you.
And that dear readers is the story of the ANZAC bikkie tin, such a beautiful gift on so many levels ‘for the relief of suffering.’
Thank-you Gordon and your BAFA members.
As we told the group, every cent will go to Klibur Domin in Timor-Leste.
EDITORS’ Note: We have permission from Gordon to tell this story in memory of his dear father.