Entertainers march under one banner on Anzac Day

April 24, 2013

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Spirit of Anzacs sees banner held high


Entertainers Sylvia Raye, Jacqui De Paul, Little Patti, Dinah Lee and Lorrae Desmond with the Anzac Day Entertainer's banner.

ENTERTAINERS Dee Donavan, Sylvia Raye, Lorrae Desmond, Dinah Lee, Jacki De Paul, Lynne Fletcher and Little Patti have given Australian performers who entertained the troops in war zones a special place in Sydney’s annual April 25 Anzac Day march.

Until seven years ago, performers who travelled to the war zones in Korea, Malaya, Vietnam, Iraq, East Timor, Afghanistan, Solomon Islands, and the United Nations to bolster the spirits of our fighting diggers were relegated to finding a spot with one of the battalions if they wanted to march – never having a `unit’ of their own in which they could all march as a combined `force’. Enter … Sylvia Raye and her band of entertainers who had all performed for the troops overseas.

“We saw an opportunity for entertainers and musicians who entertained our troops in theatres of war from Korea onwards to be able to march together as a complete unit when Ashfield RSL sub branch offered to pay for a banner. All we had to do was design it, and as a student of design I jumped at the opportunity,” said Sylvia who entertained the 7RAR troops in Nui Dat.

“That’s how we started marching under our own banner seven years ago,” she said.

Each year the `entertainer’s unit’ has attracted increasing numbers of performers who come together to march each year.

Last year an estimated 40 entertainers marched including yodelling sensation Mary Schneider who performed in Korea and former `A Country Practice’ star and OAM recipient Lorrae Desmond who took her show to five war zones. John Williamson’s daughter is also among those who march each year.

The `Silver Baron' Dee Donavan has marched in the parade for the past 20 years and was delighted when the entertainers were finally able to march together under one banner. “It is not only a chance to honour our Anzacs but also to reminisce about old times.”

Donavan had entertained Australian and American troops in Vietnam in 1967. He was recently honoured with a special Citation given by the Prime Minister of Australia for his work in Vietnam. Earlier in his career he had also played to U.S. Forces in Germany France Italy North Africa and the Philippines.

Sylvia and the initial team of performers who helped establish the `Entertainer’s’ banner were recognised for their efforts at the Australian Entertainment MO Awards in Sydney when they received the John Campbell Fellowship Award for their support of veterans over the past 40 years.

Sylvia is still anxious to hear from entertainers and musicians who entertained the troops in theatres of war from Korea onwards. “It is a bit late for this year, but we would love to see more of our brave entertainers get together in the spirit of Anzac and join the march each year in Sydney,” she said.

For further information email bowraye@iimetro.com.au

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