GRATEFUL: Jean and Arthur Burnet, of Alstonville, are grateful of the support given to them by Legacy following the wartime dea
GRATEFUL: Jean and Arthur Burnet, of Alstonville, are grateful of the support given to them by Legacy following the wartime dea

He's ever grateful

ALSTONVILLE man Arthur Burnet held his hand to his face.

"Sorry, I just get a bit emotional," he said as he shed a tear.

He was reflecting on the father who he never knew, and the support he and his mother, Jean, were able to receive from a uniquely-Australian organisation, Legacy.

On June 11, 1944, during a World War II bombing raid over France, a Royal Air Force bomber was shot down.

Piloting the stricken aircraft was Royal Australian Air Force pilot, Tom Burnet.

But the 28-year-old airman - a former farmer from Booyong who had studied hard to become an air force pilot - did not make it home.

Arthur, born in 1941, was just a youngster, and was left without a father.

After the war, Jean and her young son moved from Fernleigh to Sydney.

But, staying in contact with friends locally, she was encouraged to get involved with Legacy, an organisation which had its roots in the trenches of World War I where Diggers pledged to each other that they would look after each other's families if they didn't make it home.

The volunteer organisation was set up in 1923 by ex-servicemen dedicated to the task of caring for the widows and dependants of their mates.

For Jean, Legacy gave her someone to talk to about raising her young son Arthur is ever grateful to the support he received from the Legatees and Legacy.

He attended the social nights during the week where he learnt skills like carpentry, Legacy paid for doctor and dentist visits, he had access to a library and he attended camps, including the first Outward Bound.

These were the days when single mums didn't get the same support as they do today - while Jean worked two jobs to support her family, Arthur said she would never have been able to afford to provide the things that Legacy did.

And Legacy also helped Arthur get his electrical apprenticeship.

"They were a big help," he said.

"Had mum not get this help getting me an apprenticeship, I don't know where I would be today."

Jean moved back to Alstonville 16 years ago, and still appreciates the support she receives from Legacy and the volunteer Legatees.

"If I'm stuck and wanted advice, I would immediately think of my Legatee," she said.

Last Sunday, Lismore/Far North Coast Legacy celebrated its 60th anniversary with a memorial service and luncheon at the Ballina RSL Club.

And the war widows social club, the Ballina Laurel Club of Legacy, celebrated its 33rd birthday on Wednesday of last week.

Tomorrow, September 5, the Ballina Shire community can support the work of Legacy in helping widows and families of defence force personnel who passed away during wars or as a result of war injuries by buying a Legacy Badge.

Legacy Badge Day is the organisation's major fundraiser for the year, and local school students will volunteer their time to sell badges and other Legacy merchandise.


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