News Release

Tasmanian Student Commemorates 100 Years of Anzac History

Student walks the battlegrounds of Europe as winner of competition

Fifteen year old Jacoba Sayers from Rose Bay High School and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is having the unique experience of walking in the footsteps of fallen soldiers during the centenary of ANZAC after winning the 2014-15 Frank MacDonald Memorial Prize (FMMP).

Jacoba departed Australia on 16th April bound for Paris.  She will spend ten days in France and Belgium, concentrating on places along the Western Front where Frank MacDonald MM (Tasmania’s last surviving ANZAC soldier) bravely fought. 

According to her mother, Rachael Sayers, Jacoba’s essay was chosen from hundreds of other essays submitted for the contest.  Five other students from Tasmania were also winners and are traveling in the group.

As part of the tour, the FMMP group will participate in four official ceremonies, laying a wreath on behalf of the youth of Tasmania:

  • The Last Post Ceremony at the Menin Gate in Belgium, which has taken place every night since 11th November 1919 (Remembrance Day in Australia).
  • Anzac Day (25th April) for the Dawn Service at Villers Bretoneux.
  • The civil Memorial Service in the town of Villers Bretoneux.    
  • The ceremony of the Relighting of the Eternal Flame under the Arc De Tromphe in Paris.         

According to Jeremy Rockliff, state Minister for Education and Training, in a news release from the Tasmanian Government website: “Taking students to the battlegrounds of Europe provides an educational experience that no classroom could provide and is something they will always remember. 

“The centenary of ANZAC represents one of the most significant occasions for our nation and it has never been so important that all Tasmanians recognise the service and sacrifice of Tasmania’s servicemen and women.”

Prior to her departure, Jacoba said, “I’m pretty excited and honoured. I was so surprised and happy when I won.  It is the first time I have been away from home for so long.”  She said she had always enjoyed writing and just thought she would try it out and see how she did. 

Jacoba’s mother Rachael said, “One lovely development in Jacoba’s research for the essay has been the connections made with our family history. In our Church we are taught to value the records and stories of our ancestors and search them out (see the FamilySearch program). 

“Having access to family history records has been a great blessing and it has inspired us to begin recording more information about our ancestors. Documents and stories and photos are often lost unless we collect them.

Rachael said Jacoba has always been a keen observer of life. She is always reading and finding answers to her many questions and she has the confidence to try new things and the determination to go above and beyond expectations.

“As her parents, Paul and I are extremely proud of Jacoba’s achievements.  It has been amazing to watch her during this process and see her grow in confidence.  It has inspired us to see beyond our own capabilities and encourage our other children to aim high and seek for opportunities around them.” 

According to the Anzac Memorial website, “ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.  The soldiers in those forces quickly became known as Anzacs, and the pride they took in that name endures to this day.”

Watch a short video about Family History in the Church and its availability to those not of our faith.


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