United Service Club's Annual Patron's Dinner
United Service Club President, Lieutenant Colonel Tony Coyle and Mrs Marie-Ann Coyle; Past President, Lieutenant Colonel Garry Collins RFD; Past President, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Maitland OAM RFD and Mrs Fran Maitland; Treasurer, Lieutenant Donald Crombie and Mrs Barbara Crombie; veterans; distinguished guests; ladies and gentlemen.
I would like to begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands on which we gather, the Turrbul and Jagera people, and pay respect to their Elders past and present, and emerging. I would also like to extend my respect to any First Nations people here with us tonight.
Both Graeme and I are delighted to be back here at the United Service Club, and I consider it a great honour to be here as Governor of Queensland and Patron.
As those of you who attended the 75th anniversary of this beautiful heritage-listed premises may recall, the United Service Club is particularly special to Graeme and I, as we celebrated our wedding reception here 22 years ago.
Graeme has been a member of the Club for many years – though just how many will have to remain a mystery, as Graeme has told me in no uncertain terms; “Please don’t say exactly how long or they’ll think I’m the last survivor of the Boer War!”.
Suffice to say, we feel very much at home at the United Service Club.
The Club has had only 11 Patrons since the role was first introduced in 1933 and I am very pleased and proud to be the first woman in almost 90 years to be invited to serve in the role.
I follow in the footsteps of Mrs Iris Adams, who was admitted as the Club’s first female member in 1967, and Major Jenny Walker, who became the Club’s first female President in 2018.
Today, the Club is a vibrant institution, bringing together military men and women with civilians from the wider professional community throughout Queensland, and indeed, from reciprocal clubs right around Australia and the world.
But while the Club may have evolved from being the exclusive domain of military officers, the military heritage of the club is preserved everywhere one looks. It is a reminder to all who enter here, of the honour with which so many Queenslanders have served and continue to serve.
One of the great privileges of being Governor is the opportunity to recognise the service and sacrifice of our defence force personnel and veterans.
In just the past few weeks, I have attended several memorial and commemorative ceremonies around our State – paying tribute to those who served at the Battles of the Coral Sea and Milne Bay, and honouring the veterans of the great conflicts in which Australian men and women have been called upon to serve this country.
It is a solemn responsibility, meeting families who have been touched by the tragedy of war and conveying our State’s debt of gratitude to those who so selflessly and courageously protect our way of life.
The deeply moving honour of presenting my first ANZAC Day address as Governor to a packed ANZAC Square on a drizzly April dawn, will be forever etched in my memory.
There are so many stories of ordinary Australians who did extra-ordinary things in defence of our freedom. For many of us – and indeed a large proportion of Australians – some of those stories are of deep personal significance, with many of our own families touched by the tragedy of war and the honour of service.
I mention this because around us on all the walls are Honour Boards, paintings, photographs and medals that remind us all; that ‘service’ is not only in the name of this Club, it is in its DNA, and long may that remain.
I congratulate the United Service Club on its continued success. It can indeed be ‘Proud of the past – confident of the future!’
Graeme and I look forward to maintaining our long and happy association with the Club for many years to come. Thank you, and enjoy your evening.