When the sound of bagpipes echoed through the town of Gatton in Queensland on Sunday, October 4, before the horns sounded during a minute’s silence, it signalled the end of the 2020 Lights On The Hill Trucking Memorial Service.
An important day on the trucking calendar, the Memorial Service is held annually and is a moving tribute in honour of truckies who have lost their lives.
It’s a chance for friends and family to come together with the wider community and remember the contribution of those who are no longer with us. Names were added to the wall and read aloud, wreaths laid and tears shed.
The Lights on the Hill Memorial Wall takes pride of place at Lake Apex Park and is graced with the names of truck and coach drivers who have passed before their time. A further 24 names were added to the wall this year. Among them, John (The Ferrett) Moran, a former truckie, gossip columnist and founder of Convoy for the Kids – who passed away on July 28, 2020.
A large plaque now sits beside the wall, telling his story. “This plaque was placed on the wall on 4th October 2020 as a mark of respect for “The Ferrets” dedication and commitment to the Australian transport industry and Lights on the Hill Trucking Memorial Incorporated,” it reads.
Moran and his wife Margo were instrumental in founding the Lights on the Hill Trucking Memorial and were there for the first turning of the soil when the wall was built.
He was inducted as a patron of the Lights on the Hill Memorial Wall in 2005, with a poem he wrote forever etched onto the wall and read at each year’s service.
At the 2020 Memorial Service, 21 trucks formed a guard of honour around the wall, each one serving as a tribute, with many draped with banners and photographs of loved ones who lost their lives. “The majority of the trucks that park beside the wall are for someone who has passed away and is having their name put on the wall,” says Juanita Johnston from the Lights On The Hill Trucking Memorial.
Usually held on a Sunday morning and as part of the Lights on the Hill Memorial Convoy Weekend, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the service looked a little different this year.
“The Memorial Service normally takes place at 10am on the Sunday, but because of COVID, we’ve changed the time to give people the chance to view the memorial ahead of the service,” explains Johnston.
“Lights on the Hill is the memorial, so to be able to have the service was the most important thing. The convoy is the main fundraiser for the wall, even though it’s also important, the memorial is far more important.”
Lights on the Hill Trucking Memorial President Gary Simpson opened the service. And musician Josh Setterfield performed Slim Dusty’s Lights on the Hill – Slim Dusty is among the wall’s patrons. Kerry Kennedy also performed his song Big Rigs, which he released a few years ago as a tribute to the transport industry.
The service was filled with heartfelt moments, among these the releasing of the doves. “This year we had Daphne Nolan who lost her husband Terry Nolan several years ago. He was head of Nolan’s Transport; and Tranka Goodinson, whose husband’s name was added to the wall in 2019.
“The releasing of the doves is usually quite emotional, especially for the people that do it,” says Johnston.
With COVID-19 restrictions limiting numbers of those who could attend in person, the service was also live streamed on Facebook.
In the evening, the memorial wall was lit up in red, to show support for the entertainment industry which has being doing it tough through the pandemic.
Next year, the memorial convoy weekend is due to take place during the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in October.
“We are really proud of being part and honouring the transport industry because they’ve kept the nation going,” says Juanita.
“They didn’t have to stop with COVID, they kept going despite all of the restrictions and have done really well.”
For more great pics from Shutter Shock Photography, and video of the event, visit the Lights on The Hill Trucking Memorial Facebook page.