Why ANZAC Day Dawn Service Is Our Favourite Event Of The Year
25 April 2023
The ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Dee Why Beach is so special to the team at Flying Ruby Events.
ANZAC Day is one of Australia’s most important national occasions. Not only does it mark the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War, it’s a sacred day of respectful remembrance for the sacrifices made by the Australian and New Zealand military personnel who died during the war.
A reverent, solemn, yet highly-charged occasion felt by Australians everywhere, for the team here at Flying Ruby there’s an extra layer of emotion involved. This is because we’ve produced the ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Dee Why Beach, in conjunction with Dee Why RSL, since 2015. We understand how important this day is for so many, and we want to ensure we produce the perfect event – one that makes the 10,000+ people who attend proud to be Australian. It’s little wonder it’s one of the team’s most anticipated events as well…
“The ANZAC Day Dawn Service at Ted Jackson Reserve in Dee Why is actually my favourite event of the year,” admits Kelly Lewis, Managing Director and Founder of Flying Ruby. “We’ve produced this event for five years pre-COVID, and we were so honoured and excited to be back, doing it again, this year.”
But while it might seem to most like a short, but incredibly powerful, event that lasts for 45 minutes, for the team at Flying Ruby it’s a big production. “It takes months of planning, 22 hours of build time, and a day to bump-out – all for an event that runs for just 45 minutes,” explains Kelly. “But I love it. It’s so different to anything else that we produce. It was pitch-black when we arrived on-site at 3.30am this morning, and the mood was so sombre and highly emotional. Then, for the entire duration of the event, you could literally hear a pin drop.”
Taleah Pharo, Flying Ruby’s Senior Event Manager, would have to agree. “Each year this event is so remarkable for so many reasons,” she explains. “It doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war, and the effect it has had not only on active and veteran armed servicemen and women, but on those people around them – their families, partners and friends.”
As for the actual planning of the event; “Although the service is short there is a lot that goes into it,” Taleah explains. “There are several components to producing an outdoor public event of this magnitude, ranging from State Government to local council stakeholders and emergency services to gain approvals. And, of course, there are the finer details of the event, such as production of signage, risk assessments, AV, stage set productions, MC script writing, security and first aid management to name just a few…
“But it was all worth it,” Taleah continues. “This morning, the reserve was covered by a night sky with only the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach. Slowly, people began making their way to the reserve with such reverence and respect, it was awe-inspiring.”
However, it was when the event began that you could feel the emotion really start to take over the entire audience. “My view of the event is always from the front of the stage, and every year it takes all of my internal strength not to cry,” explains Kelly. “This morning I watched the faces of the ex-servicemen and women so filled with emotion that their eyes welled with tears and their hearts broke all over again as they reflected on what was. The guest speakers on stage shared stories with so much strength, yet so much pain, and I scanned across the audience of over 10,000 faces staring up at the stage watching with so much respect for those around them.”
Guest speakers like returned service member Lee Sarich, who delivered a powerful commemorative address this morning, shining a light on the struggles he faced once he returned home. “I think we often forget the battles people face once they leave the service and return home,” says Taleah. “So allowing this story to be shared amongst tens of thousands of people really showcases the importance of community and mateship.”
What was Taleah’s favourite part of the event? “The sounding of The Last Post,” she admits. “The bugle pierced through the morning silence with those heart-wrenching notes that were carried throughout the reserve, and it was very emotional. As it played, I found myself looking out to the crowd and watching young and old standing together in respect of this truly incredible moment. A crowd of so many and not a sound was heard other than the bugle.”
“You know, the event is such an important time for reflection and it means something different to every single person who attends,” continues Kelly. “To bring that event to life, and work with our wonderful friends at Dee Why RSL to create an event to accommodate for all, is really something special.”