The Circular Head RSL Subbranch has benefited from a project completed by John Findlater Junior, who has spent the better part of a year working hard to turn one of the club’s plain timber tables into an iconic piece of local history.
John, who makes replicas of service medals for the families of returned veterans, was in Circular Head to pick up some medals when he enquired about the table.
He shared his vision for the timber tabletops, dedicating each table to a major conflict and incorporating some local history as a talking point for locals.
“I said to John, we can’t afford that!” RSL Secretary Leonie Holland said.
“But he said it was a hobby of his and that he’d be more than happy to do it for free.”
John unscrewed the top of the table and took it with him back to Wynyard.
From there he spent the better part of a year working out a design and carving it out with the help of some mates.
Eventually completing the project John travelled back to Smithton with the wooden tabletop on the back of his ute, arriving six weeks before Anzac Day.
From there, Leonie contacted Jeff from Seen Signs to do some insets detailing all of the Veterans who served in Vietnam from Circular Head, as well as a small bio on Geoffrey John Coombs, who was killed in battle during the conflict.
John, who served 22 years in the Defence Force and finished up an 18 year stint with the Navy last year, says he has suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression since his service ended, and that having a project to work on has helped his mental state.
“Projects like this have been like therapy for me,” he said.
“To see what Leonie and the team had done . . . it made me quite emotional.”
The RSL hopes to eventually refurbish all of the wooden tables at the club in a similar fashion, a move which John hopes will help returned servicemen feel included.
“It’s about being included and feeling like a part of something,” he said.
The table was officially unveiled after the Anzac Day service and was very touching for all involved, according to Leonie.
“I want to see the community getting involved with the local history and getting behind these kinds of projects,” John said.
Having become somewhat of an advocate for Veterans and Veteran mental health, John has been heavily involved with establishing a North West Veterans Hub, likely to be located in Burnie.
“We want to create a space where everyone feels included,” John says.
“There are a lot of services open to Veterans, but we want to create a hub where Veterans and their families can come to be pointed in the right direction and to help them get the help that they need.”
A further update on the Hub will appear in a future edition of the Chronicle.