Thank you, veterans

May 14, 2020 BY

Ocean Grove's Neil Winsor, 91, holding Xavier Rappel's note which reads "You are a hero. Stay safe" and his defence medals. Photo: MICHAEL CHAMBERS

INSTEAD of rising for the traditional dawn service this past Anzac Day, veterans chose to commemorate their time served in ways never before seen in Australia’s history.

For one Ocean Grove man who was deployed to Korea in the early 1950s, the sentiments shared in a care package delivered to his doorstep made for an indelible April 25.

Neil Winsor, 91, was delighted to receive goods from a number of Bellarine and Geelong based businesses, including Driftwood Café, La Madre Bakery, Pretty’s Prime Cuts Ocean Grove, Ocean Grove Cellars and Lard Ass Butter.

But it was the sprig of rosemary and handwritten note from Grade 2 Ocean Grove Primary pupil Xavier Rappel which read “You are a hero. Stay safe” that most touched his heart.

“I appreciated all of it,” he said.

“A man of few words,” laughed Susan, Neil’s wife of 44 years.

“It was just lovely. At his age, it’s not like you don’t expect these sorts of things to happen, but it really was just a lovely surprise for him.

“The generosity and kindness and the sentiments expressed made for a wonderful and memorable Anzac Day.”

Nicole Rappel said her son had completed a reflective task for school where students were asked to describe how they were feeling about the coronavirus pandemic.

Ms Rappel became concerned when Xavier admitted he was “70 per cent worried”.

“I asked ‘Oh, okay, why?’ and he just said he was really worried for the older people of Ocean Grove because they’re the most susceptible to COVID-19.

“I have an affiliation with the Rotary Club of Ocean Grove and they were helping to put together the care packages.

“I had told one of the ladies I was really worried about Xav feeling this way and she said ‘Well, we’re putting together these packs, would he like to write some notes?’ and he jumped at that.”

Along with sister Amelie, Xavier signed and sealed more than 30 cards.

He said he felt better for having done so.

“I was really happy to make the cards to thank the veterans. I hope they liked them.”