Truckie tributes shared at Tarcutta
EVEN after 15 years as chairman, the emotional ceremonies still tug at the heartstrings of Doug McMillan at the Australian Truck Drivers' Memorial.
This year, 50 names were added to the hallowed NSW monument, the oldest of its kind in Australia; 10 of those as a result of trucking-related accidents.
"When I ask families to make their tributes and put flowers on the wall, that's the heart-wrenching part of it - it never gets easier to watch,” said Doug.
Tears flowed freely as friends and family gathered for the service, and to hear the comforting words of inspirational speakers such as Sharon Hourn, the brave mum whose own two children, Tamika and Khaleb, are honoured at Tarcutta.
Tamika was just two years old and Khaleb only 17 months of age when they lost their lives in a tragic Easter Monday truck accident in 1995.
"I sit here with a tear in my eye reflecting at the many names on the Australian Truck Drivers' Memorial wall at Tarcutta,” Sharon, a recent inductee to the Shell Rimula Wall of Fame, wrote on her Facebook page.
"I can't help but think about the many families that have lost a loved one... To me this memorial is a place of neutral ground, a place of remembrance and respect, love and compassion, a place where we can come together and support each other with kindness and positivity but also a place that will bring the hardest of hearts unstuck and make you feel so humble.”
Many others shared those same sentiments on the Tarcutta Truck Drivers Memorial, Tarcutta, NSW, Facebook page, such as Casey Weiley who lost her truckie dad Ian at just 59 earlier this year.
"Always told you that when the day came I'd put you on the wall and today even if it was far too soon your name was added, the memorial service was beautiful and my thoughts are with all the family and friends of all other drivers.
"You'll always be my hero of the highway daddy. Ian Thomas Weiley R.I.P.”
Although the turnout wasn't as big as some years - around 900 - inclement weather in the lead-up possibly deterring some, reckoned Doug. Still, Scottish piper Bob Scott played on and Doug is proud of the fact the memorial "stands on its own two feet”, free of any grandstanding politicians, who are banned, aside from the local mayor.
Toll has been a huge help, arriving "out of the blue” a couple of years back to support the auction, said Doug. With the help of a big-hearted Wangaratta tradie on the tools, the company is even chipping in to help replace the old pavers around the wall with new concrete in time for the 2020 event.