AN EMOTIONAL service was recently held beside the Pacific Highway at South Grafton to remember those the industry had lost.
Shadowed by vehicles representing the local fleets, close to 100 families and friends gathered at the Grafton Truck Drivers Social Club annual memorial service to reflect on, remember and dedicate four names to the memorial wall.
The message from Salvation Army and Social Club Chaplain David Gilbert focused on the act of being "gracious" on the road and attitude toward others. He related this to recent experiences that he has had on the road with the professionalism of drivers and gracious attitude towards safety in appalling conditions.
This message was mirrored by the comments and attitude of the two guest speakers introduced by MC for the afternoon Gai Bailey. Both Clarence Valley Council Deputy Mayor Craig Howe and recently elected State Member for Clarence Chris Gulaptis, both first-time attendees to the event, with no background in the transport industry, displayed an understanding and gratitude of the transport industry that impressed many.
Mr Howe talked about the need for the continual upgrade of the Pacific Highway and thanked the industry for its continued service. He acknowledged the harsh working conditions, dangers and long hours that drivers face while away from home. Promising to take the message back to the State Government, Mr Gulaptis spoke about the need for improved road safety and highway upgrades and he spoke of the need for "drivers to be considerate, understanding and forget road rage".
With the assistance of Nick Dickson, of the NSW Highway Patrol, Gai Bailey recited a poem dedicated to the men and women of the road, ending with the reading of the names to be dedicated to the wall; Terry Hargans, Kelso Wratten, Stanley Reeve and Neil Pearce.
The Grafton District Services Club Pipe Band, formed a Guard of Honour as six vehicles from the local fleets paraded slowly past the wall in respect followed by many emotional and touching scenes that brought tears as family members and friends laid wreaths at the Memorial Wall.
Ms Bailey said the numbers attending were down on previous years, but with many familiar faces who had travelled far to be there, she thanked those drivers who slowed and drove past in a manner of respect during the service.
The Grafton Truck Drivers Social Club Memorial Wall was dedicated in 2004 with an annual service, usually held on the second Saturday of January.
The Grafton Truck Drivers Social Club is calling for all interested people to attend the Annual General Meeting, which will be held at the Hotel 5, Armidale Rd, South Grafton, on February 10, at 6.30pm.
It will be the third attempt made to hold an AGM, for the election of an executive committee for the upcoming year. If a committee cannot be formed, it will place the future of the Social Club and its events in serious doubt.
Club stalwart and former club president Don Wall indicated that he was willing to re-stand for the top job but that to do so he needed a committee willing to step up and help. "There need to be changes, otherwise it will fall to pieces!"
The Grafton Truck Drivers' Social Club is one of the East Coast's oldest truck drivers' clubs and hosts the June Long Weekend of Trucking which commenced with the first Truck Drivers' Ball in 1978. They hope to hold their 35th event this year.
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