At the age of 18 years, Ken Bilsborough, like many young men, was called up for training in the National Service Scheme. In 1952, he served in the Army’s 11th Battalion at Wacol in Queensland.
It was because of this experience as a “Nasho” that Ken, and his wife Lucy, decided to form a reunion of the National Servicemen in 1995.
“A number of critics said that such an idea wouldn’t work, that it will never get passed the first one! But here we are, 20 years on and still going strong,” said Mrs Bilsborough.
In 1987, the National Servicemen’s Association was formed in Queensland and has progressed to the formation of Sub Branches in all areas throughout Australia. Ken attended the first formation of the State Branch in Sydney.
Today, a large number of Sub Branches commit themselves day after day, in making a real difference in the lives of their communities.
The inaugural march of the nashos in Bingara took place in 1996, and with every subsequent year the march has grown in size and continues to be a great success.
The march has been supported by the fabulous Inverell/ Moree Pipe Band over many years.
“It is important to recognise that this support has been at their own expense, which has been sincerely appreciated,” said Mrs Bilsborough.
Every year the Nashos have been accepted with open arms by the Chamber of Commerce, the Gwydir Shire Council, Bingara Central School, the local churches, the Returned Servicemen’s Club and the wider Bingara community.
“The success of the reunion can be attributed to the people that travel near and far, from Queensland and down south to the border. “We are very proud of a small group of people, eight in total that have never missed a reunion,” said Mrs Bilsborough.
In 2007, the community of Bingara presented the Nashos with a special plaque which is situated on the grounds of the old court house in Maitland Street. This plaque was unveiled by the NSW State President, Mr Ron Brown O.A.M.
Unfortunately, after 20 years of conducting the reunion march, due to age and ill health of the participants, this year will see the final march down the main street of Bingara.
This will take place Saturday, March 14. There will be conveyances available for those unable to take part in the march.
It must be noted however, that the reunion and memorial service itself will continue each year.
As this will be the 20th anniversary of the inception of a reunion of National Servicemen in this area, everyone is encouraged to make this reunion one to remember!
All attendees to this year’s reunion will be presented with a certificate to commemorate this special occasion.