Australia Day honour for local journalist

LOCAL journalist Damian Bester has been awarded one of  the Tasmanian RSL’s two Australia Day Achievement Awards for 2019. The award of a medallion and certificate was presented last week by four RSL representatives in front of staff of the Mercury, where he works as a news producer.

The nomination was made by the New Norfolk RSL Sub-Branch in recognition of Damian’s longstanding support of veterans and the RSL in Tasmania, sub-branch vice president Phil Pyke said. With Mr Pyke were the acting state president Geoff Leitch, chief executive officer Noeleen Lincoln and southern president David Webb.

“Over the 100 days leading up to Remembrance Day 2018, Damian put together 100 files of Tasmanians who died in World War I,” Mr Pyke said. “His work in the ‘100 Days’ series has led to a French deputy mayor trying to contact members of the Petterd family as their ancestor Harry lay in the St Benin military cemetery. The deputy mayor traced through the Mercury’s articles and was put in touch with the family through the Friends of Soldiers’ Memorial Avenue.

“This is just one example of where Damian’s stories have had an impact. Damian is a member of the New Norfolk community and until recently was a member of the Derwent Valley Council. He attends many commemorative events across the south of the  state, writing them for the Mercury or Derwent Valley Gazette, along with photos.

“In the ‘100 Days’ series he wrote about how New Norfolk became the place to treat soldiers with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – more notably at Millbrook Rise which still exists today as a mental health facility.”

Mr Pyke said Damian had previously worked with Reg Watson to produce the Mercury’s special supplement titled Brothers in Arms – Tasmanian Soldiers, Sailors, Aviators and Medics Who Paid the Supreme Sacrifice in World War I. “He has also produced World War I supplements for Newspapers in Education resources which were used over the centenary years 2014-18.”

“Through Damian’s work, the loss of those who died in World War I has resonated across the generations, with many Tasmanian families responding to the stories over the 100 days. Outside his work with the Mercury he has also produced several volumes of the history of the Derwent Valley. While it could be said this work is the result of Damian’s employment, he writes with compassion as well as a genuine understanding of our military history,” Mr Pyke said.


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