President’s Report 2021

Well, who would have thought 2021 was destined to continue in the same vein as 2020 due to COVID-19 related sickness, death and Lockdown restrictions impacting family, friends, the business and health sectors plus leisure pursuits to name but a few? May Australia and hopefully the rest of the world turn a corner into a more positive 2022…The COVID-19 lightning bolt which struck once, then twice but we hope will not strike thrice?! Let us all hope and pray for a much gentler and kinder 2022.

The St. George Historical Society Inc has joined a great throng of like societies which have been embroiled in learning how to adjust to a new paradigm. Our meetings have necessarily been curtailed by Government and Bayside Council restrictions. This has been challenging, but at least with modern technology, communication updates have still been possible on a timely basis. Nonetheless, in person, face-to-face gatherings are without doubt the most rewarding and popular forms of communication and interaction for social gatherings such as our monthly meetings.

A review of the Society’s activities makes for sobering reading. Of the possible 10 monthly meetings between February 2021 and November 2021, Lockdown restrictions, a clash with ANZAC Day and a freak storm event resulted in the cancellation of 7 and due to being unable to access the Senior Citizen’s Centre due to a Bayside Council error, potentially the aborting of yet another meeting. We must thank the quick-thinking Hortons for use of St. Peter’s Anglican church Cooks River for saving the day. The Lord on this occasion did indeed provide! Sadly, we will not be able to access Lydham Hall for this year’s Christmas party due to ongoing renovations. We shall canvas members’ thoughts for an alternative venue.

2021 coincided with the Golden Anniversary of the opening of the Lydham Hall museum and the Diamond Anniversary of the St. George Historical Society Inc. Alas, due to the pandemic and long-awaited works being undertaken at Lydham Hall, possible celebrations have necessarily been deferred; but significantly not cancelled!

Although monthly meetings have largely been in recess, I can assure members, much indeed is happening ‘behind the scenes’ as it were. Laurice and Tina will each provide updates as to what has been negotiated with Bayside Council and Lydham Hall respectively.

I take this opportunity to thank members of the Society’s Executive and Committee for so freely and unselfishly giving their time and talents. Specifically, I would like to thank Barry Johnson in his capacity as the Society’s Editor in recent years and wish him well in his well-deserved retirement from this role. The reformatting and colourisation of the ‘Our History’ newsletter was revolutionary and has been well-received. Well done good and faithful servant!

Laurice Bondfield has worked tirelessly during especially challenging times and on occasion, had to manage exasperating circumstances. Many telephone calls and e- mails have been had between Laurice and Bayside Council as regards COVID-19 Safety plans and securing meeting rooms. She has in addition spent hours reviewing Government COVID-19 information websites and liaising with members, the Society’s committee, the Leader newspaper and guest speakers, collated meeting agenda, taken monthly and committee meeting minutes, helped with the logistics of the meeting room set-up and brought COVID-19 supplies for all our use. I am sure this list is not exhaustive…but I think this should give some idea of what Laurice has accomplished this year. May she continue to keep on keeping on!

Tina Workman indeed lives up to the first syllable of her surname. Work she has and how! Whilst managing the Society’s finances would ordinarily be her principal duty as Treasurer and presumably has the odd challenging moment; NOTHING could compare with her undertakings at Lydham Hall! Fortunately, because of her profession, Tina has the trained eye for detail and design so critical at this watershed period in the Museum’s history. She has had to negotiate with many stakeholders such as Bayside Councillors, Council tradesmen, specialist heritage architects and consultants plus of course the Lydham Hall Management Committee, as much needed external restoration and some internal renovations to this historic house have been actioned with still more to be undertaken before the overall project is finalised.

Tina has necessarily adopted a ‘roll up the sleeves and get cracking approach’. Over perhaps hundreds of hours including many weekends, Tina has cleaned and catalogued upwards of 500 individual pieces and upgraded the associated displays. There is still at least another 1,500 objects to be given the same treatment. Tina has fortunately been assisted by Councillor Liz Barlow, Laurice, the Rankins and others on occasion. The work has been long-overdue and herculean in scope but ultimately will make the Lydham Hall Museum a viable concern in the years to come. Suffice to say, “Tina, thank you very much and do please take time to breathe, eat and sleep”!

I would also like to acknowledge the contribution of Robert McGarn to the Committee. Although Robert is very much a quiet achiever, he regularly provides insightful feedback to ideas and proposals. In addition, he has the handy talent of keeping abreast of local news and happenings, much of which would probably otherwise escape the Committee’s attention.

Finally, I wish all members a happy, healthy and holy Christmas. May 2022 prove to have significant respite from COVID-19 and provide the opportunity for our society to joyously celebrate milestone occasions deferred from this year plus a return to some semblance of normality for all Australians.

Best wishes,
Wesley Fairhall
President

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