THE strong crowds at Anzac Day services across the Clarence Valley today confirmed the occasion holds as much importance as ever in our culture.

The growing number of young people in attendance is testament to how new generations have not lost touch with what it means to remember those who sacrificed their lives for our freedom.

Grafton Public School students stand waiting to lay a wreath at the Grafton Anzac Day service.
Grafton Public School students stand waiting to lay a wreath at the Grafton Anzac Day service. Adam Hourigan

Grafton High School student Josh Crispin encapsulated the relevance Anzac Day still holds in his moving speech at the Grafton service at Memorial Park, sending a strong message to his peers of respect for those who served.

"To the school children here today, perhaps as you leave this park after the ceremony, shake the hand of these courageous men and women standing opposite," he said.

"I will certainly try to, as it is because of them and their family members that Australia is the lucky country."

FULL STORY: Young and old, Grafton gives thanks for service

According to Yamba RSL Sub-Branch president John Mansfield, Yamba boasted its biggest turnout for Anzac Day in years.

"I haven't seen a dawn service that big either," he said.

When asked why he thought that was, Mr Mansfield put it down to a resurgence through younger generations, and ongoing conflicts across the world.

"Afghanistan is our longest-running war," he said. "We've got guys who have been there for 10 years. Vietnam wasn't that long, Iraq wasn't that long, Borneo, Korea, even the first and second world wars weren't that long, and yet we've got people still over there."

>> FULL STORY: Yamba's biggest Anzac Day turnout in years

Maclean Anzac Day service draws in the crowds

HUNDREDS gathered in Maclean this morning to watch this year's Anzac Day ceremony, with new Maclean RSL Sub-Branch president Steve Walton praising the crowd as comparable to the 100th anniversary of the landing at Gallipoli in 2015.

>> FULL STORY: President proud: Maclean comes out for Anzac Day

With an abundance of blue sky for the memorial, Mr Walton said he was pleased his first Anzac Day servicec as president went smoothly.

"The size of the crowd today was just magnificent, so I am content that we put on a service that served the community in terms of remembrance for our Anzacs," he said.

"We had a lot of returned servicemen and women, a lot of ex-servicemen not just veterans and we had a smattering of current serving members of the Navy, Air Force and Army.

"t really adds to the atmosphere, the military atmosphere of the context of the service, so it's good to see the younger men and women in uniform, and our ex-servicepeople, we have more and more women returning from service and it's good to see them amongst our ranks."

>> SEE ALSO: RSL faces transition preiod to meet needs of new generation

Scores of school students attend Grafton service

ABOUT half the crowd comprised of school students at today's Anzac Day Service at Memorial Park, Grafton.

Of those, Abbi Goodwin (Grafton Public), Zoe Busch (Westlawn Public), Cassandra Elward (McAuley Catholic College) and Josh Crispin (Grafton High) each delivered stirring speeches describing what Anzac Day means to them.

What does Anzac Day mean to the residents of Wooli and Minnie Water?

The residents of Wooli came out in force this morning as about 150 people crowded around the cenotaph, and remembered the fallen and serving soldiers are the sun rose over Wooli beach.

We asked what Anzac Day means to them:

 

WOOLI PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS: We're here to respect the military people who protected our country. They are the people who fought for our freedom. They represented our country.
WOOLI PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS: We're here to respect the military people who protected our country. They are the people who fought for our freedom. They represented our country. Caitlan Charles

 

Cadet Hayden Watkins stands with the Australian flag in front of other members of the 24 ACU Grafton stand on the levee wall in South Grafton after the Anzac Day dawn service.
Cadet Hayden Watkins stands with the Australian flag in front of other members of the 24 ACU Grafton stand on the levee wall in South Grafton after the Anzac Day dawn service. Adam Hourigan Photography

'It was like a family': Minnie Water resident reflects on military service

BRIAN Frederiksen was only 17 when he joined the Navy, where he served for nine years before joining the Air Force.

 

Brian Frederiksen of Minnie Water has served in the Navy and the Air Force.
Brian Frederiksen of Minnie Water has served in the Navy and the Air Force. Caitlan Charles

 

When Mr Frederiksen joined the HMAS Supply, a big oil ship, he began travelling all over the world.

"We went to every country in Southeast Asia, we went to America, Africa, India, everywhere," Mr Frederiksen said.

"I always wanted to be a sailor so I could see the world.

"There was great comradeship in the Navy back then. Everyone knew each other, it was like a family."  

Read full story here

Renovated South Grafton Cenotaph shrouded in fog for dawn service

SHROUDED in fog, the newly relocated and revamped cenotaph at South Grafton greeted hundreds to bring in the first Anzac Day service in the Clarence Valley for 2017.

FULL STORY: New cenotaph shrouded in fog for dawn service

The pre-dawn service was shortly followed by the dawn service at Yamba, where ex-servicemen stood shoulder to shoulder as the sun rose over the sea, and Yamba Surf Life Saving Club rowers performed the annual ritual of rowing ashore.

Dawn services were also held at Grafton, Maclean, Iluka, Harwood, Wooli, Tullymorgan and Lawrence.

The Tullymorgan Dawn Service on Tuesday, 25th April, 2017.
The Tullymorgan Dawn Service on Tuesday, 25th April, 2017. Hollie Bright

Do you have an inspiring story, photos or video from today's Anzac Day activities in the Clarence Valley? Feel free to email us and we'll look to include it in our rolling coverage.



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