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Never Give Up

Les & Sandra Annetts grew up in Sydney N.S.W and spent their youth working and enjoying their life. On a beautiful sunny day in Febuary 1969 Les & Sandra were married in the Presbyterian Church in front of all they loved, it was a turning point in their lives, one so full of dreams.

Wedding - 1969
Les & Sandra Annetts grew up in Sydney N.S.W and spent their youth working and enjoying their life. On a beautiful sunny day in Febuary 1969 Les & Sandra were married in the Presbyterian Church in front of all they loved, it was a turning point in their lives, one so full of dreams.

Married life was great and with the arrival of their 4 children James, Jason, Michelle & Joanne, life couldn’t get any better. Sandra can remember the feelings of each of her 4 children, when they got their first tooth, what word each said first, and the day they took their first step. But time passed and they were now growing up and all had different interests. James loved to ride his bike, go fishing, he excelled in the boy scouts, and did a milk & paper run after school for pocket money. Jason loved fishing, football and was also in the scouts, Michelle & Joanne were younger, they loved school, playing with their friends and trying to help mum in the best way they knew how.

Scouts - 1984

4 kids together - 1981

James fishing - 1984

James before he left
16 August 1986
With Les at work all week Sandra had it tough with 4 children to handle, shopping was a major effort as she had to pack up 4 kids and catch trains, buses or walk as she had no licence or car. But because of their love for each other and their 4 beautiful children, life was a breeze compared to that of others.

In 1985 after many discussions they decided to move from the busy city life to a more peaceful life in the Riverina, N.S.W. They found a house to rent in a small village just outside of Griffith called Tharbogang. Around 6 months later the family moved to Binya, and Les found work on a farm in the area. Harvesting, tractor driving and sheep work, it was a life so different to the city and everyone was enjoying it.

Binya Home - 1986

In 1986 the Annetts dreams were about to be shattered & their lives changed forever. James, their eldest son wanted a career as a Jackaroo and he found a job advertised in the Kimberley’s on a cattle station near Halls Creek. It was to be one of the biggest decisions the family had to make, Sandra made numerous phone calls checking on where James would live on the station, what meals were supplied and would he be supervised at all time as he was only 16. With the assurance he would be well looked after James was given the okay to follow his dreams and he left his family on the 17th August 1986 and headed for the Kimberleys .

James holding dingo in the Kimberleys - 1986

As the next few months past Sandra heard from James 4 times, it was difficult to contact James as the only phone service was through the flying doctors at the main station. Sandra started to worry something was wrong as James just didn’t seem the happy go lucky boy he was, she asked him but he said he was fine. Sandra thought "its only two months and he would be home for Christmas'.

It was the middle of the night and the phone was ringing. Les got up and went to the phone, his heart fell on the floor as he heard them say it was the Police and they had to inform the Annetts family that their son was missing as of the 5th December 1986. A search was in place looking for James and the ute he left in. Sandra fell apart and over the next 2 days life was just a blur. It was now a week before Christmas and still no news as to whether their son was alive, the communities of Griffith Yenda and Binya rallied around putting the Christmas tree up and filling it with presents for the 3 children.

The media from across Australia pulled together to help find James, calls came from everywhere saying they had seen him and the ute but all leads became dead ends.

It was now 5 months on and still no news. "My god, where is James?" Sandra would say over and over. No one could just disappear without a trace. Two weeks later they got the call they had been dreading, the remains of their son had been found in the Great Sandy Desert near Lake McKay in the Kimberely’s.

Les was to make the trip to identify the remains of his son and it was a memory he will never get out of his mind, the feeling of hopelessness, numbness, anger and why my son?

Sandra was not coping with Les away and the 3 other children to care for. Her emotions were out of control, she was angry, numb and unable to believe she would never see her son alive again. It was May before the remains of James were returned to Griffith for his funeral on the 14th May 1987, it was a very large funeral as James had touched peoples hearts all across Australia. The community of Halls Creek placed a plaque in memory of James and to this day it still stands.

Sandra at James' gravesite

Plaque - May 1987

18 Years later the memories are still there like it was yesterday, Sandra has battled over the years with an illness but she had no idea what it was, the constant heart palpatations, hot and cold sweats, uncontrollable shaking and lack of interest in things she once loved to do.

Over the coming years Sandra was diagnosed with Severe Depression and placed on medication to help treat the symptoms.

By placing our story on this website for the first time, we are hoping to help fight the stigma of Depression and to help other people understand that its okay to get help. Life can be special, even though I have good days and bad days and will be on medication for the rest of my life.

James will never be forgotten and he is close to our hearts. Everyday we focus the best we can on our children that are still with us and our beautiful grandchildren that make us laugh everyday and fill our life with a purpose.

So Please never give up. We can all help stop the stigma.


(By 1st Seven Hills Scouts)

Almighty father: our friend and fellow scouts,
James, has gone to his rest,
Let him always remain in peace with you,
Help us to master our grief and grant us the courage to live well,
So that when the time comes,
WE can go home in peace.


Suicide Awareness .com Inc

PO Box 8039, Griffith
NSW 2680, Australia