More than a century since the end of the First World War, Mercy Place Mandurah residents and staff will remember those who were lost in the line of duty, ahead of Remembrance Day on Friday, 11 November.
And resident of the not-for-profit home and octogenarian, Alistair Dowsett, will be just one of the attendees at the commemorative ceremony who will take the opportunity to reflect on his 30 years’ service in the Royal Australian Navy.
Born in 1939 in New Guinea, Mr Dowsett grew up in Geelong and enrolled in the Navy cadets during his time at Geelong Grammar School. He went on to join the Royal Australian Navy in 1956 as a 17-year-old recruit, reaching the rank of Chief Petty Officer by the time he was 28 years old.
And very pertinently this year, Mr Dowsett is also set to remember Her Majesty the Queen, who he encountered twice during his naval service.
“I remember the time Her Majesty inspected me when I was in full Navy uniform while I was a member of the Queen’s Guards, during the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne,” recalls Alistair, who is legally blind.
“And I also remember the time she visited Sydney to open the Opera House. She was on the ship HMAS Quiberon where I was working as a leading hand at the time, and we all lined the side of the ship and cheered ‘hip hip hooray’ while she was on board.”
In total, Mr Dowsett had 12 deployments on different ships during the 50s and 60s, vising countries including Vietnam, Borneo, Philippines, Hong Kong and New Guinea. During that time, he supervised 120 engineers, and co-ordinated their training, leave and organised welfare arrangements.
“I had an incredible career with the Navy and was honoured to receive 12 medals during my service,” he says.
Mercy Place Mandurah Service Manager, Simone Baxter, said Remembrance Day was an important and special day for many residents.
“Every year Mercy Place Mandurah acknowledges the exceptional contribution of all Australian servicemen and women during our Remembrance Day ceremony, and in particular it’s a time for us to reflect on the bravery and selflessness of our residents, many of whom lived through World War II and were proud to serve their country,” she said.
“Our Remembrance Day commemorations enable many of our seniors to reflect on the war years, remember those who lost their lives and also take a trip down memory lane to recall their own special memories. It’s an important day for all of us.”
Residents at Mercy Place Mandurah will commemorate Remembrance Day by holding a small service within the home, and observing the traditional minute’s silence at 11 AM on the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
Mercy Health is a Catholic not-for-profit provider of care, founded by the Sisters of Mercy and grounded in a 2,000-year tradition of caring for those in need. The organisation provides health and aged care services throughout Victoria, southern New South Wales, Western Australia, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.
In Western Australia, the organisation cares for more than 300 people across five residential aged care homes, with an additional 78 retirement living units.