CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Jodie Lay is putting herself forward for the President's position at the Bundaberg Services Club Sub-Branch.
CHANGING OF THE GUARD: Jodie Lay is putting herself forward for the President's position at the Bundaberg Services Club Sub-Branch. TAHLIA STEHBENS

New leader for Bundaberg RSL Sub-Branch

THE hotly contested seat of the Bundaberg RSL Sub-Branch presidency has now been decided.

The votes are in and former army medic Jodie Lay will now take the helm of the local organisation.

Mrs Lay said she was keen to get involved in her new position and looked forward to working with the board.

"I'm very excited,” she said.

Going up against fellow contender councillor Helen Blackburn, Mrs Lay said she was humbled by being selected president.

"I was a bit shocked, Helen is very well-respected in the community,” she said.

"My biggest focus will be leading the board and a priority will be to look after the veterans.

"I think there's about 3000 veterans in the wider community so we will be reaching out to support them.”

The call for a new president came after now former-president Paul Tramacchi was formally removed from the top role at one of the organisation's annual general meetings last month.

Mr Tramacchi was met with a wave of controversy throughout the last leg of his presidency - in February the Bundaberg RSL Sub-Branch held a meeting where a vote of no confidence in Mr Tramacchi was passed, with 67 members voting in favour and 47 against.

However, Mr Tramacchi refused to stand down.

He was then forced to step down shortly before Anzac Day.

Mrs Lay spoke to the NewsMail to announce her run for the presidency last week and said helping the younger generation was one of the reasons she wanted to step up to the position.

"I am listening to the veterans' community and they do want younger contemporary veterans in all organisations, so hopefully if I lead by example, a few other younger veterans go 'if Jodie can do it, anybody can',” she said.

"Leadership is about going into something and providing support and a safe place. Finding out what's going on.”

Mrs Lay works as a nurse at Bundaberg Hospital and both she and Mick are active members of the Army Reserves.

Mrs Lay is no stranger to putting in the hard yards and working with a team to get the job done.

The Bundaberg mum-of-two was part of the first co-ed platoon where men and women were divided equally, and despite her plans to drive trucks, something else came along.

Mrs Lay celebrated her 18th birthday in Brisbane, where she was based to complete on-the-job training, before being posted to Townsville, where she met husband, Mick, an army ambulance driver.

She had her first real taste of Army life when she was deployed to East Timor in 1999.

"I was 20 then and I thought I was all grown up, but I wasn't. I grew up really quickly in Timor. Some of the stuff we saw, the way people treated each other at that time,” she said.



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