Mac Gregory’s long held dream to erect a naval memorial to eventuate
Visitors to Ahoy will recall that many years ago Mac announced that he had founded the Naval Heritage Foundation of Australia Inc. with one of its purposes being to commission artists to create a statue to commemorate and symbolize all Naval personnel in Victoria. (See "Naval Heritage Foundation of Australia Inc. plans to erect a 7 foot six inch bronze statue off a WW2 Sailor in round rig."
Mac worked tirelessly for over twelve years to make his dream happen, incorporating the Foundation, setting up an Advisory Board with representatives from ex Naval personnel, the Shrine of Remembrance, local business and the legal profession, lobbying for support from all levels of government and industry, and applying for and being granted a planning permit to erect a bronze statue of a World War II sailor facing the water on the foreshore at Port Melbourne. Port Melbourne has long had a connection to the Royal Australian Navy and it is where HMAS Lonsdale had been situated, a fitting place as many Naval personnel departed from this point for war service. The statue is to be named ‘Answering the Call’.
Mac gained much community support for the concept, and received helpful financial contributions from private donors, and from some government and non-government bodies, but the Foundation had difficulty raising the total funds without it being granted Donor Gift Recipient status, which successive Federal Governments refused to do. Mac was not to be deterred and in November 2013 he applied to the present Federal Government for a Major Commemorative Grant. The grant was approved by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator Michael Ronaldson in March 2014.
Passionate about all things Naval right up to the end of his long and wonderful life, on 8 August 2014 Mac commissioned the renowned sculptor, Louis Laumen, to make the statue.
Louis Laumen has commenced work on the clay model and it is anticipated that the bronze statue will take approximately eight months to complete. Mac had hoped to unveil it in mid April 2015, prior to the Centenary of ANZAC.
The statue will not only be a legacy for the Navy, but it will also be a fitting legacy to a wonderful and inspirational individual.