Macksville’s Christopher Heyes made his mark in his home town and now he is doing the same in the little town of Burpengary in south-east Queensland.
Christopher, who is now the caretaker at the local state school, joined the Australian Army ten years ago, serving two tours of duty in Afghanistan (in 2010 and then again in 2011).
His mother, Lee, who now lives in Brisbane, said upon his return Chris realised it was time to leave and return to civilian life.
“Chris is married to Kate and the proud father of four-year-old Lachlan, who he had the joy of caring for full-time when he was a baby, while Kate was at work,” Lee said.
“But his memories of the army are still very strong and he did not want the centenary of Armistice Day to pass without marking it in his own way.
“He proposed to the school that he make a statue of the Unknown Soldier, at his own expense. The school instead approached the Education Department who approved a grant for the project.
“Chris worked weekends and nights for about 12 months on the statue, which is made from powder coated steel-plates that have been soldered together.
“As Armistice Day approached, a local politician organised a marble plinth for the piece, which has plaques with the names of the 48 students from the school who lost their lives in various wars.”
Lee said she and Chris’s father, Gordon, were extremely proud of what their son had created.
“The time and effort that went into this is beyond counting … it was a kind of therapy for Chris.
“It is a unique way to honour the memory of those warriors who went to the First World War. I don’t think there is anything like it in any other state school.”
The statue was unveiled in a special ceremony at Burpengary State School on November 11.