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Gang Gang - Governor General - lone pine project highlighting veterans' needs

The Lone Pine sapling planted on Monday by the Governor-General, His Excellency General, the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Rtd), aka "Guv," may be doomed but at least it will wither and fail in comfort and with dignity.

"I have a bad record with trees," he told the witnesses gathered at the planting at Clare Holland House hospice, "Everything I have ever planted has died."

His excellency then issued a vice regal edict, charging all those present to vigilantly monitor the welfare of the seedling from the Australian War Memorial's (now mature) seedling from the original Lone Pine on the slopes of Gallipoli.

In the event it should appear to become sickly or unwell gardening staff must be notified immediately.

Sir Peter, who did the honours while en route from Yarralumla to Sydney to greet his New Zealand counterpart who is in Australia for a state visit, took time out to indicate he may not have been Duntroon's best ever behaved cadet.

A member of the graduating class of 1968, he recalled a beachside booze up with a few of his mates near the site of of Clare Holland House on the shores of the then spiffingly new Lake Burley Griffin.

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"I had with me my father's treasured pewter mug," he said. "I lost it in the Molongolo‚Äč. He was not impressed."

Sir Peter said in the event he had to avail himself of Clare Holland's services later in life he may well spend his last remaining days donning scuba gear and plumbing the lake's shallow depths in search of the missing mug.

In the meantime if any local fisher folk or dog walkers stumble across a pewter drinking vessel in that vicinity Gang-gang suggests they direct any attempts to locate the owner to Yarralumla.

Sir Peter's tree is the first of many to be planted at hospices across the country as part of a special program over the next 18 months.

As has been previously reported, the magnificent World War II generation that weathered the depression and then defeated fascism and Japanese aggression before building modern Australia is nearing the end of its time on earth.

Individuals are in their 80s and 90s and more and more are in need of palliative care.

"The Lone Pine Project, which will plant seedlings in hospices around the country, intends to highlight the unique needs of veterans receiving palliative care," Professor Patsy Yates, the president of Palliative Care Australia said.

"Hospice care for veterans includes recognising how military service can influence how an individual lives and the way they die and that post-traumatic stress may increase during the process of dying."

During his visit to Clare Holland House Sir Peter made a special point of meeting as many of the volunteers as possible.

Volunteers are crucial to the operation of hospices across the country and can find themselves doing everything from manning the reception desk to sitting with clients offering compassion and support.

"Then there are the people who volunteer their legal, accounting or other skills to assist with administration and those who volunteer to raise funds," Professor Yates said.

"Dying is about the community and community engagement, it is not just about healthcare and medical services."

Mea culpa: My apologies to any readers I may have inadvertently sent to the National Gallery on Monday in search of The Rothschild Prayer Book. That excellent work is, of course, at The National Library. That said, no visit to either of these excellent institutions can ever be said to be wasted.