Announcing exciting news for fans of the annual Sgt. Matthew Locke MG Charity Match, which is scheduled for March 6, 7 and 8 next year:
Coming into its 12th year, this Bellingen event in memory of Sgt Matthew Locke who died in Afghanistan in 2007, will for the first time host the opening round of the ADF Inter-Services matches as supporting games to the Army Thunder vs. Bellingen Magpies headline match.
'Inter-services' means there will be Army, Navy and Air Force men and women on the field on Saturday, March 7.
"These will be full-on tackle games between the three services, men and women ... although we are still looking for a women's team to play the Army women," organiser Debbie Locke said.
"It's an incredible coup for us to host this opening round.
"And on top of that, His Excellency, the Governor General the Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Retd) and Mrs Hurley will be our special guests for the seventh time. Last year he was still the Governor of NSW but now he has taken up his new position.
"It is a real honour to have someone of his calibre involved."
Debbie said the Army Band would be there as usual and would perform at a concert at the C-Ex Coffs Harbour on Sunday, March 8. A golf tournament is also being arranged.
"Building on previous events, we are hoping to raise $25,000 to divide among the three chosen charities for next year's event - Soldier On (an organisation that works to support those who have served in front line services who are transitioning to civilian life), The Grub Club, which has been kicking lots of goals building educational resources in Timor Leste since 2011 and thirdly, the Rural Fire Service brigades of Tyringham, Megan and Dorrigo, who have been on the front line of the fires for more than two months."
She said she was particularly proud of the work done in her brother's name in Timor Leste over the past eight years.
"We've built a four-room school house, with one room dedicated to a kindergarten as well as two custom built kindergartens with plans for another in Suai in the next twelve months as well as an Adult Educational Centre in Bei Cala village.
"Through our work we have also been able to give a few people the opportunity to earn an income - a fish business has been established and that is helping to finance the kindergartens.
"The teachers are amazing - they are such entrepreneurs - I am in awe of them. Really our usefulness there is waning, which is exactly what we wanted to happen."
Debbie said the work in Timor Leste was like a gift to her from Matthew.
"There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of him, but now it is in a positive way ... we are making these small changes in the world.
"For me personally, I have had the opportunity to step out and do something I love - Matt has made me braver. We have been honoured to be part of building the future of Timor Leste.
And back to the event: "We hope to see as many people as possible enjoying the Rugby League day, playing golf or listening to the great sounds of the Army Band.
"It is because of this wonderful community that we live in that our event continues."