At the close of business for this year we have undertaken and participated in a number of interesting rides, solidified our connections with like-minded organisations, welcomed some new cyclists into the VetRide family; and maintained our commitment to honouring the service and sacrifice of our compatriots, past and present.
Early in the year and although we did not participate, some of us were on hand to welcome the Queensland VetRide group, who traveled south to enjoy a packed week on many of our rail trails.
Over the years since we began in 2011, VetRide has been able to establish its bona fides through the backing of well recognized ex-service organisations, most notably the Victorian Branch of the Vietnams Association and that in turn has led to financial support from the State Government of Victoria and the Federal Government.
Since our first multi day ride from Echuca to Melbourne in 2012 and with the help of ongoing personal endorsement from previous PM, Tony Abbott and his then Defence Minister, Kevin Andrews, we have been able to continue to broaden our focus beyond the Vietnam veteran cohort.
As part of that ongoing partnership and at Tony’s suggestion, we joined the Pollie Pedal commitment to the ‘Soldier On’ cause, for a pre-ride event in April. A mix of about 50 current serving personnel and veterans joined with a number of politicians for a day ride between some of the RSLs in Melbourne.
Around the Bay in a Day
Following on from our joining forces with riders from Soldier On, Ride 2 Recovery and RSL Active for the 2017 Bicycle Network Great Victorian Bike Ride; we and a number of other service participants entered the annual 2018 Around the Bay in a Day event
For Bicycle network’s 25th Around the Bay, about 80 military service linked riders took on the various optional rides, with the two biggest pelotons tackling the 210k and 100k distances. Weather conditions on Beach road were ideal and just for a change most of our riders enjoyed a pretty ‘cruisy’ day.
Centenary of Armistice
For our annual VetRide event we chose to undertake a ride in commemoration of the Centenary of the Armistice. With Kevin Andrews welcome sponsorship as the Federal Member for the Menzies electorate, we were able to obtain some modest funding from the Department of Veterans Affairs and the with 100k for 100 years as the goal, the ‘Ride of the Century’ took place on Saturday 10th November.
At the completion of the 100k, the riders enjoyed some comradeship and refreshments at the Templestowe RSL. The success of the day was all about the bringing together of a good number of those who are currently serving, some who have more recently been discharged and those for whom the wearing of a uniform is a distant memory.
On other necessary matters and following from our discontinuing to operate under the auspices of the VVAA in 2017; the Planning Committee sat down this year to talk about our future. All options were on the table, however with WO2 Thommo’s strongly voiced enthusiasm for the organisation’s continuation, we determined to do so, unanimously.
For many reasons, including the ability to make agreements and apply for larger grants, we need to be a legal entity and as with other not-for-profit organisations, we have incorporated under the state-based Associations Incorporation Act.
The first duty of VetRide Incorporated was to hold its inaugural AGM and which was held on Friday 23 November, with acting Chair Melbourne Legacy President, Hugh Roberton. At that meeting the committee including the Executive was elected and some basic operational rules were determined.
As part of the change in status we have also been successful in formally registering as a Charity and obtaining ATO recognition as a Deductible Gift Recipient. The latter means that VetRide can receive tax deductible donations.
Given the broadening of interest in the organisation by younger veterans, we have enlarged the committee to 11 with the increase now to two members who are currently serving. As we look to the future and given the average age of a Vietnam veteran is 70, the shift to management by those who are younger is a no brainer.
In terms of the time it takes to make the generational transition, it’s already some time since the World War 2 veteran cohort passed the baton to the baby boomer generation. I pass on a comment made to me many years ago by a close friend and WW2 veteran, the late Laurence Sydney Black OAM. Laurie served with Z Special, a unit that operated behind the Japanese lines. In urging my generation to take the reins sooner (‘up Donner up Blitzen’) rather than later, he made the point to me that his mates were already running most of the RSLs in their 30’s.
On that note and on behalf of the VetRide committee, I wish all of our riders and their families, the very best for the festive season.
“Ride as much or as little, as long or as short as you feel. But ride”
– Eddy Merckx