Two local members of the Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Sub Branch Robert (Bob) William Bellinger and Bruce Harley Neal were recently rewarded with Life Memberships after both joining the RSL more than 70 years ago.
Robert joined the RSL in 1945 belonging to Prahran, East Malvern and Burwood sub branches before transferring to Yarrawonga Mulwala in 1987 and has held a very high place in the estimation of the sub branch due mainly to his total devotion to the sub branch and all things RSL.
President of the Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Sub Branch Ian Summers said Robert had served in many positions at his earlier sub-branches including member of the committee at all three sub branches he has been involved with and a member of cricket, snooker and billiards at each of his sub branches.
“Robert was a member of our committee for over 10 years and a member of our Housing Sub Committee acting as overseer of our RSL House boarding house for over 15 years, often going above what is normally expected of a member just to make sure everything is running ok and our tenants are properly looked after,” Ian said.
“Even though he has had to care for his wife Annie, Robert has always made time for any of the residents of the house or village if they have a problem.
“Time and time again he has put the priorities of the sub branch before his own personal life, it is only his advancing age and extra care needed by his wife that has caused him to give up his duties, even so Robert is always willing to give us advice when we need it.”
In the estimations of committee members of the RSL Robert has not only given, but continues to give assistance to the sub branch far beyond that which they could reasonably expect and Life Membership of the League has been duly earned.
Alongside Robert, Bruce Neal also joined the RSL in 1945 joining the Melbourne sub branch before transferring to Yarrawonga Mulwala in 1987.
Since joining Bruce has also held a very high place in the estimation of the sub branch due mainly to his total devotion to maintaining the links to the past and making sure important dates in the RSL history are remembered.
Bruce was the sub branch’s appeals officer for many years before he stepped down due to age and poor health but for this task he was outstanding.
He organised and ran both two appeals as well as the Legacy week appeal for the local legacy branch.
“He is a strong supporter of our sub branch, he was a committee member for many years and still attends meetings and makes his presence felt even though he is now 95,” Ian said.
“Bruce also still attends the local high school each ANZAC Day to talk to the students and they love him for it and still request his presence every year.
“He is always ready to assist other service-related groups and is usually in great demand.”
In the estimations of RSL committee members Bruce has not only given but continues to give assistance to the sub branch far beyond that which they could reasonably expect and the RSL feel that Life Membership has also been duly earned.
As well as being rewarded a Life Membership Bruce was also nominated for a Meritorious Service Medal after being nominated by Past President and current committee member of the Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Sub Branch Anton Nieuwenhout OAM.
“I have known Bruce for 25 years and right from the start he has been an outstanding member,” Anton said.
“He is a well-respected member of the Yarrawonga Mulwala RSL Sub Branch as well as the communities of both Yarrawonga and Mulwala and is always ready to assist other services related groups and is an active member of the community which is why he is usually in demand.
“We feel this award has been duly earned.”
Both men were pleased and grateful for their new Life Memberships and said they would both stay involved with the RSL sub branch as long as the branch would have them and as long as they were able.