Keeping ‘The Promise’ alive

    Isabella Bates is one of the youngest official torch bearers for the Legacy Centenary Torch Relay 2023.

    Isabella Bates, one of the youngest torchbearers in the 2023 Legacy Centenary Torch Relay, is currently Victoria’s top fundraiser having raised more than $8500 so far.

    Last week the 13-year-old from Malmsbury met with the family of a deceased Australian veteran of the Afghan War who are also participating in the relay.

    “I’m happy to get to help people less fortunate than I am and it was cool to meet the Legacy kids and see how the money helps them,” Isabella said.

    Isabella’s father Bill Bates said that meeting the beneficiaries helped Isabella to understand the huge difference the money makes to people and spurred her on to raise more money.

    Bill and Isabella have a shared passion for supporting vets and their families, and since the age of three, Isabella, dressed in a WWII nurse’s uniform, has stood alongside her father at the Maldon ANZAC Day Dawn Service.

    Their dedication to veterans is their way of honouring Isabella’s great-great-uncle, Private William Hood from the 2/7th Infantry Battalion, who was killed in action in New Guinea in 1943, leaving behind a three-year-old son.

    “My great-cousin is 83 now and he is so proud of Isabella for keeping his father’s memory alive,” Bill said.

    “I’m so proud of her. She has grown up so much and really understands that the greatest gift is helping other human beings.”

    The ethos of Legacy first began in the trenches on the Western Front during World War I when a soldier said to his dying mate “I’ll look after the missus and kids”. This became known as ‘The Promise’.

    In 1923, Major General Sir John Gellibrand formed the Remembrance Club in Hobart and Lieutenant General Sir Stanley Savige established a similar club in Melbourne (Legacy) to help the tens of thousands of veterans, widows and children left behind – a service Legacy has provided for 100 years.

    “So many people come back from Iraq and Afghanistan and commit suicide. The highest suicide rates are women returning from Afghanistan,” Bill said.

    “It’s a silent killer, with one woman on average dying every week and Legacy provides support to their families and children.”

    The 2023 Legacy Centenary Torch Relay started on April 23, 2023, in Pozières, France, and after travelling through London (the only Legacy Club outside of Australia), the torch will travel to all 44 Legacy Clubs in Australia.

    Leaving Canberra on August 28, it will travel through Mildura to Ballarat on September 19 where Isabella will proudly carry the torch.

    To support Isabella’s fundraising efforts visit or visit Bupa’s Open Garden in Kyneton, open 10am-3pm Saturday and Sunday from September 2 to September 10 (all funds raised will go directly to Isabella’s fundraising efforts).

    Isabella is pictured with Kyneton RSL pensioner welfare officer Rob Renton (left) and Kyneton RSL secretary Mike Gretton.
    Isabell Bates with local MPs Lisa Chesters and Maree Edwards.
    Isabella Bates at 11 months old.