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Inauguration of the
Patrick Simon AO Room


Posted on July 30 2021

On 2 July 2021, the multi-purpose room of the Sir John Monash Centre was renamed in honour of Dr. Patrick Simon AO, former mayor of Villers-Bretonneux and great defender of the memory of Australian soldiers on the Western Front.

A threshold stone, with the brass inscription THE PATRICK SIMON AO ROOM and the portrait of the former mayor of Villers-Bretonneux were unveiled by H.E. Mrs. Gillian Bird, Australian Ambassador to France, in the presence of the family of the deceased and local elected officials.

Dr. Patrick Simon devoted part of his life to consolidating the friendship forged between France and Australia during the First World War.

During his term of office, he directed the renovation of the Franco-Australian Museum in Villers-Bretonneux, which exhibits an important collection of objects and relics from the Great War. He also signed the twinning charter between his town and the town of Robinvale in the state of Victoria in Australia.

Every year, during the Australian commemorations of Anzac Day, he read the Ode of Remembrance with pride and emotion.

Dr. Patrick Simon, mayor of Villers-Bretonneux lays a wreath during a ceremony at the Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery in 2018 (Department of Defence)

In early 2020, shortly before his death, Patrick Simon and the mayor’s office of Villers-Bretonneux had organized a march of solidarity and support after the bushfires that had affected a large part of the Australian territory.

Patrick Simon was Australia’s best friend. We will remember him. We will never forget him.

Gillian Bird, Australian Ambassador to France

The Patrick Simon AO Room is a place where schoolchildren and students from around the world will participate in workshops to learn about Australia’s role in the First World War and how the town of Villers-Bretonneux was saved.

The name of Patrick Simon is thus associated with the perpetuation of remembrance for the younger generations and will continue to keep alive the historical links between the Somme and the Australian soldiers who defended it.

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