The story of 105 Ballarat Orphanage “old boys” who fought in World War I has been renewed through a new interpretive sign installed this week at the Arthur Kenny Avenue of Honour.

The new sign – replacing a weather-worn and vandalised marker at the East Ballarat landmark – was supported by the Victorian Government and Victorian Veterans Council after Cafs applied for a Restoring Community War Memorials and Avenues of Honour grant.

Cafs CEO Wendy Sturgess said the sign is an important part of the Avenue of Honour as it tells the story behind its establishment.

The Avenue of Honour was planted to honour 105 former Ballarat Orphanage residents who fought in World War I, and was named after former superintendent Arthur Kenny who planted it in 1917.

Ms Sturgess said the new sign provides visitors with more in-depth knowledge of the sacrifices the boys made and the Avenue’s heritage, an intrinsic part of Cafs’ history.

“The Avenue is frequently visited by family members and connections of the orphanage boys who are commemorated,” she said.

“For some of these boys, the orphanage had been their only home and their peers and staff members their only family. The Avenue of Honour is an incredibly important historic marker for these young men.

“The new sign will help preserve their legacy and make their history accessible for future generations.”

Of the 105 orphanage “old boys” who went to the war, 22 died and many others returned physically and psychologically wounded.

The original Avenue of Honour was planted in 1917 and after falling into disrepair over many decades, was replanted in 2015 by Cafs – the legal successor to the Ballarat Orphanage – with support from the Ballarat RSL and land owner the City of Ballarat.

The new sign has been installed at the entrance to the Arthur Kenny Avenue of Honour on the corner of Fortune and Fussell Streets, Ballarat East.

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Leah Heinrich

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