It was a day of mateship, community, and, most of all, a celebration of the life of a very special man: Lieutenant Michael Fussell.
Initially planned for last year, a combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and very wet weather forced a last-minutes postponement. So, after two years of planning, on October 18, the Michael Fussell Memorial Day saw The Armidale Blues rugby and netball teams making their way to Canberra to play against the Royal Military College – Duntroon.
Organised by Mike’s brother, Dan Fussell, the event was held at Duntroon’s Portsea Oval. It was an opportunity to bring together two aspects of Mike’s life: growing up playing competitive sports in Armidale and his later military career. These two teams coming together to play the game he loved was a fitting tribute to Mike, his passions, his service, and his ultimate sacrifice.
General admission and VIP tickets were available for a day of competition and family fun, with activities, local food vendors and live auctions. All funds raised were generously donated to Soldier On and RSL Australia.
This event wouldn’t have been possible without the support of incredible businesses in the Armidale and Canberra regions, including The Dock, The Jetty Canberra, Penten, Sunstone, and Lonsdale St. Studio to name just a few.
Including donations, more than $20,000 was raised to go towards the vital work of supporting veterans and their families.
Soldier On CEO Amy Cooper said the charity was honoured to be involved with the event. “Michael is an integral part of the Soldier On story. Our charity was founded in his memory, and the work we do every day to support veterans and their families is part of his ongoing legacy,” Amy said.
Michael’s death in Afghanistan 2008 was a watershed moment for his friend John Bale, John’s wife Dr Danielle Clout, and colleague, Cavin Wilson. The tragedy highlighted to them the need for contemporary veteran and family support services, which inspired the trio to form Soldier On in 2012.
Dan Fussell said bringing Armidale and Duntroon together for this event was a chance to pay tribute to the person his brother was.
“For me personally, the day provides me a chance to remember my brother without bagpipes, the last post, and fanfare,” Dan said. “Instead, it gives me a chance to remember Mike with my family, friends, and the support of so many communities that he was a part of. I will cherish the opportunity to spend a day with them all.”
“I know Mike would be proud that the day held in his memory provides his friends, family and members of the public the chance to show their appreciation for the veteran community at large by supporting an event raising funds for Soldier On and RSL Australia. In doing so, together, we can raise much needed funds for the community that Mike called his brothers and sisters in arms.”