Northern Suburbs Hockey Club is honouring fallen Australian Defence Force members – including one of its former players Ashley Birt – with a special commemorative ANZAC Day jersey.
Norths has a proud tradition of Australian Army personnel in its playing ranks, given the Ashgrove club’s close proximity to the Gallipoli Barracks in Enoggera.
The club has paid tribute to Australian Defence Force (ADF) members with its new Diggers Appreciation Day jersey worn by Norths teams in games on ANZAC weekend.
Designed by Norths players Jack Tucker and Tim Riggall with assistance from clubmate and Australian Army Captain Aaron Evans, the jersey incorporates iconic ANZAC imagery including poppies, a soldier standing honourably over the fallen, and the eternal quote ‘Lest we forget’.
The special jersey honours Corporal Ashley Birt, a former Norths player who was killed on operations in Afghanistan in 2011.
“We endeavoured to create a jersey that is respectful and honours past and present members of the ADF who have represented our country so that we may live blessed and privileged lives,” Jack said.
“We hope that our small initiative helps commemorate our Defence Force members and anyone who has served our country in some way, shape or form.
“We feel very fortunate to wear this design and will do our utmost to represent their honour with dignity and pride, just as they have nobly done for us and Australia.”
Part of the purpose of the Diggers Appreciation Day commemoration is to raise awareness of people’s mental health.
“I cannot personally begin to grasp the desperation one must feel when experiencing war on a battlefield so far from home, or the turmoil inherited from the experience,” Jack said.
“It is vital that everyone looks after each other. We are all mates and the courage it takes to ask someone if they are okay is small in comparison to the courage displayed by all those who have experienced war.”
Norths is raising money for Cor Infinitus, whose purpose is to provide dignity and respect to the families of ADF personnel who have taken their own lives.
The organisation also aims to break down the stigma around mental health for serving and veteran defence force members.
A fundraising event held at Norths’ clubhouse in Ashgrove on April 24 featured guest speaker Kevin Humphreys, who had a 20-year military career flying Blackhawk and Chinook helicopters for the Australian Army.
“Kevin’s personal mission is to lift humanity by inspiring people to have their own courageous and compassionate conversations,” Northern Suburbs Men’s Hockey Club President Wayne Tucker said.
“We are very fortunate to have Kevin as our guest speaker, to hear his story and to learn how we can all be better mates to each other.”