THE strength and courage of the Lockyer Valley after the flood inspired people across the globe, says Prince William.
In a written message read by Governor General Quentin Bryce at today's commemoration ceremony in Gatton the prince called the residents of the region "an inspiration, not just to other Australians but to people around the world".
Despite temperatures in the 30s, by mid-morning hundreds of people braved the baking sun to attend the ceremony at Lake Apex in Gatton, remembering the loss the Valley suffered, including the 19 lives that were lost.
While Gatton was not as affected by the floods as many of the Valley's smaller communities, the town became a hub of the recovery effort.
In his message the prince said he had been inspired by the way residents had found courage and hope where he expected only desperation.
"Before I arrived last March, I anticipated scenes of destruction and personal despair," he wrote.
"The way you dealt with the terrible events of last year was an inspiration, not just to other Australians but to people around the world.
"I applaud you for coming so far, so quickly ... I keenly await news of your progress in the months and years ahead."
Members of the Withcott scout group lit a candle for each of the 19 people killed by the floodwaters, before a minute's silence was held to remember their deaths.
Ms Bryce was joined by Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Queensland Governor Penelope Wensley and Premier Anna Bligh, who each paid their respects to the people who had suffered so much in the past year.
Two Lockyer Valley residents, Cec Pedersen and John Mahon, read poems for the crowd, including one written by Kinglake bushfire survivor Vicki Ruhr, which was specifically for the residents of the Valley.
Mr Pedersen said everyone in the Valley had been affected by the flood, even if the water hadn't swamped their houses.
"I stand united with my fellow community members as we rebuild and move forward to what will be hopefully a safer and happier future," he said.
"Premier Bligh, you told the nation last year that Queenslanders were tough. Well, I think we've demonstrated that we in the Lockyer Valley are very tough. And we're ready now to take on the world again."
Toowoomba resident Andrea Foyle was in her family's Grantham home when the flood hit last year. She attended both the Grantham dawn service and the Gatton ceremony.
"The service in Grantham was really sad, but I was proud of myself here, I didn't cry until the very last song," she said.
Ms Gillard said an Australian flag she had been given by defence force pilots from Murphys Creek, now hanging in the Lockyer Valley Cultural Centre, was an enduring symbol of the flood.
"The flag given to me was wet and muddy," she said.
"It spoke to those pilots, to me, and the nation about courage and endurance. It spoke about what it means to be Australian."
Premier Bligh said the day had been an important time to thank those who had given so much to help flood-affected communities.
"Today we come together and give thanks to all those who came to help us in our dark days of need in January 2011 and for every month and every week and every day that they've done since then," she said.
"To all the friends and strangers who came from near and far to help us. To all those in our emergency front line who came when we needed them.
"To the locals in each of the communities in the Lockyer Valley who rose to a challenge that they never thought they'd experience in their lifetime. And many of them are doing it quietly ... without fanfare."
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