Anzac ties run deep: French village raises funds for bushfire-hit Cobargo

French village Villers-Bretonneux raises funds for bushfire-hit Cobargo

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French community donates to Cobargo after bushfires.

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Anzac Day marks 102 years since Australian Diggers played a key role in liberating a small French village from German occupation as the carnage of the Western Front raged on in World War 1.

This created a connection that has been felt over a century later in the Bega Valley in the midst of bushfire recovery.

Villers-Bretonneux, in northern France, is home to a school that the people of Victoria paid to have rebuilt at the war's end and the area is the final resting place for over 2000 Australian and Commonwealth servicemen.

A sign over the L'Ecole Victoria' (Victoria School) playground reads "Do Not Forget Australia", a Bega Valley Shire Council spokesperson explained, and the people of Villers-Bretonneux certainly haven't

When the Bega Valley was enduring the bushfire crisis earlier this year the people of Villers-Bretonneux, led by their Mayor Patrick Simon, were watching and planning what they could do to lend a hand.

While firies continued to battle blazing infernos, the people of this village over 17,000kms away were mobilising and fundraising - doing what they could to reaffirm their solidarity with Australia and make its recovery just a little easier.

An online fundraising page received donations from more than 800 people and over 1000 people braved the winter chill for a solidarity march from the town centre to the Australian National Memorial and Sir John Monash Centre, where a school choir sang a song especially written for the appeal titled "Australia, Stop Burning".

By late February over $37,000 had been raised, with the proceeds to be shared between the fire fighters of Robinvale in Victoria, as Robinvale and Villers-Bretonneux have a long-standing relationship, and the Bega Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund.

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