War Widows' Guild (Queensland) 2015 Friendship Day Lunch
I warmly thank the War Widows’ Guild, Queensland, for the kind invitation that Kaye and I participate today in this, my first official engagement as Patron of the Guild.
We are delighted and honoured to join you all at this year’s Friendship Day, and especially to see that so many Guild members from regional Queensland have been able to attend today’s luncheon.
This year we commemorated the well-known centenary of the ANZACs at Gallipoli, but I suspect that it came as a surprise to some that 2015 also marks 70 years since the end of World War Two.
This means that the War Widows’ Guild in Queensland, formed two years after the War’s end, is approaching its own 70th anniversary.
The Guild was formed for a different kind of campaign which needed to be fought. Led by Jessie Mary Vasey, and by the foundation members of the Guild in different States, it sought to improve the circumstances of war widows through a combination of lobbying government, of practical programs for war widows, and of generating mutual support among its members.
Friendship Day is very much in the third category – that of Guild members supporting one another in a welcoming and enjoyable social environment. It is a day on which Guild members meet friends, new and old, who know and understand one another’s experiences.
Today’s luncheon also gives me, as Governor and Patron, an opportunity to express gratitude to so many Australian women whose lives were changed forever – “turned upside down” as one widow put it – by the loss of a partner serving our country.
Kaye and I echo the thoughts of all Queenslanders in expressing our profound admiration and gratitude for your determination and resilience in the most difficult and distressing of circumstances.
Today I also thank the Guild in Queensland for nearly seven decades of championing and actively serving the well-being of war widows.
We thank you all for welcoming us so warmly into your circle of friendship today. We are in wonderful company, and we wish you all a very enjoyable day.