Friends of Sandy celebrate memorial win

Sandy was the only horse of the 169,000 sent to World War I to return to Australia. (Supplied)

A community group campaigning for recognition of one of Maribyrnong’s most beloved war heroes has welcomed a breakthrough in its struggle to create a garden memorial.

The Friends of Sandy and the Australian Light Horse Inc have spent close to 30 years working to establish a lasting memorial to Sandy, the only horse of the 169,000 sent to World War I to return to Australia.

The group was awarded $17,622 to fund a memorial under the Anzac Centenary local grants program but had long been denied access to the section of the Maribyrnong Defence site where Sandy was buried.

A Defence spokeswoman said agreement had been reached for the memorial to be erected near the Fischer Stable entry on a hilltop.

“The timeline for the design and development of the memorial is a matter for the Friends of Sandy and Australian Light Horse,” she said. “Once the design has been finalised, Defence will arrange access for the installation.”

Friends of Sandy president Elaine Brogan said signs were promising that a memorial to Sandy was now within reach.

“The result is fantastic, but this wouldn’t have happened without our secretary constantly bombarding [Defence] with emails,” she said.

“It’s going to be wonderful. All we have always wanted is recognition for Sandy who represents all those horses who went to war and never returned – what better place to have it than at the top of the hill where Sandy ended his life?”

Ms Brogan said it was a shame that a number of the group’s members had passed away before the memorial could be realised.

Opposition leader and Maribyrnong MP Bill Shorten he had repeatedly raised the issue of the Sandy memorial with the Minister of Defence and other members of the federal government.

“It is a testament to Friends of Sandy that their cause was well known throughout all levels government- local, state and federal.

Footscray MP Marsha Thomson said that Sandy had a special place in the history of the Maribyrnong community.

“I’m really pleased that Friends of Sandy have been listened to and will take comfort in knowing that Sandy will have a lasting memorial in the grounds where he lived out his days.”