DESPITE a gloomy start to Anzac Day in Byron Shire the crowds still came out to honour the fallen.
For the past 55 years Barry Stanford has played the bugle at both the Byron Bay and Bangalow Anzac Day ceremonies and he has never seen the crowds as big as they were at yesterday's ceremonies.
When Mr Stanford sounded the Last Post for the dawn service at the newly-refurbished Byron Bay War Memorial in Marvel St, the crowd numbered more than 350.
Later at the march and ceremony in Bangalow nearly 400 people blocked off Station St and stood in solemn silence for the ceremony.
"Its just getting bigger and bigger every year," he said.
"I thought with all the old blokes bowing out it would slow down but the kids at school are now coming along."
Mr Stanford's father served in New Guinea and he took the young Barry along from their dairy farm in Tyagarah to play at his first ceremony in Byron Bay at the age of 11.
After yesterday's ceremony he was off to play the bugle at the Two Up at Billinudgel Hotel.
The key address at Bangalow was given by a sub-branch member Nick Hill, who served in the Second Commando Regiment.
He comes from a long line of Australian soldiers and gave the crowd a no holds barred account of his service in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban and carrying out operations designed to destroy the opium trade in that country.
He paid tribute to 12 mates in his regiment who gave their lives in Afghanistan, and "to the 102,800 other Australians who made the ultimate sacrifice in the defence and for the ideals of our great nation".
"Remembering their sacrifice is what Anzac Day is all about for me," he said.
Earlier at the Byron dawn service David Murray was there with son Hugo who was proudly wearing his grandfather Douglas Moreton Murray's service medals.
"We are here to remember my grandfather who served in the 5th Lighthorse in Papua New Guinea and the Middle East during World War Two," Hugo said.