Christmas Lunch 2023

Our annual Christmas lunch was conducted on the 6 December at the Summerland Farm Restaurant.  We had about 70 members attend which made for a great afternoon for a catch up in a very festive environment.    Our co-Presidents for 2024 Rosemary Edwards and Diana Sharpe hosted the proceedings and presented thank you gifts to some much appreciated members.

The Committee of the Bangalow Garden Club wishes members and their families a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.  See you all in 2024.


Welcome:  by Rosemary Edwards

Good afternoon, everyone. On behalf of Diana, Karen, and the members of our committee, welcome to the Bangalow Garden Club’s Christmas lunch 2023.

We extend a special welcome to those of our Life Members who are with us today; Judy Baker, Fay Bogg, Margaret Byrne, Helen Johnston, Beth Noble, and Hazel Sowerby.  Sadly, Margaret Bruce who had planned to join us, has had a brush with COVID recently and is unable to attend today.

Welcome also to all previous members of our committee including previous Co-Presidents Robyn Armstrong, Faye Dwyer, Mary Lou Fraser, and Adelina Linardon as well as those Life Members who acted as Co-Presidents. We’re in good company today everyone.

Finally, a warm welcome to those friends of members who have joined us.  We hope that you enjoy this time of celebration with us.

Lunch is about to be served and at the end of the main course, we’ll extend our thanks to some special people. Please enjoy your meal.

Judy Baker: Thanked by Rosemary Edwards

Our first vote of thanks today goes to Judy Baker.

One of the many benefits of belonging to our club is the opportunity to meet members with very interesting backgrounds. Judy Baker is one of these members.

As I read the brief biography provided by her last year for our newsletter, I recall thinking ‘What a fascinating life’. Judy’s life has been interwoven in the areas of microbiology, farming, and agriculture.  At one stage, she ran a business selling knitting wool called ‘Three Bags Full, naturally coloured wool’. I’ve always planned to ask her about this.

Later in life, Judy completed a Bachelor of Science degree at the University of New England in Armidale and extended this to a doctoral study on detecting cyanobacterial toxins in the town’s water supply. What a gift that would have been to the people of Armidale.

There is no doubt that Judy’s has been an interesting life, and it is still in full swing.

In her retirement, she found us and volunteered her services on the Communication Team as our photographer. She’s captured moments with us and as importantly our plants and our gardens over many years.  As we know that, ‘every picture tells a thousand words’ Judy has contributed enormously to recording the life of the Bangalow Garden Club.

Although moving ahead she won’t be photographing in an official capacity, I suspect that we’ll still see her, phone in hand, creating an occasional image of something she just can’t resist.  Good photographers are generally ‘hooked for life’.

Thank you for all your contributions to our club, Judy.

Judy Ellison and Jan Milburn. Thanked by Diana Sharpe

A big thankyou to the two people who have been responsible this last year for maintaining the quality and quantity of our legendary afternoon teas!

Not only have they ensured that we were fed and watered, but were cheerful, generous and a consistently delightful presence at our monthly meetings.

I was personally fascinated to discover that Jan had shared my passion for ocean sailing. Judy, who also educated us with her bonsai collection, was always the epitome of elegance and a feast for the eyes. Not really surprising when we discovered that she had been a model both for Myers and the Wool Board.

We wish them both a very Happy Christmas and New Year and thank them for their invaluable contributions both to the Garden Club and to our “inner men”.

 Lesley Player: Thanked by Rosemary Edwards

As I’ve said many times, members of the Bangalow Garden Club committee are a special breed, and they largely determine our success every year.

Lesley Player joined our club in 2014 and has been a member of our committee for a number of years, organising garden visits on Saturdays, first with Patricia and more recently with Suzy.  If you’ve attended any of the many garden visits that she’s helped to organise you will, I’m sure, be as grateful as I am for her part in this.

Today, I want to thank Lesley for not only what she’s done for us but how she’s done this.  No request of her has ever been too difficult or too much. When she provided a description of the role of the Saturday Garden Organisers, Lesley relayed that this had been written with Suzy over a lovely coffee (where I think most of their collaboration happened).  They detailed their role as enjoyable and fun. It was so enticing that I thought as I read it, theirs could well be the happiest committee role of all.

Lesley is delightfully English and hers and Martin’s garden at Tintenbar reflects this. She loves roses and when she and Suzy shared their favourite blooms with us in November, I chuckled as I watched what I call our two ‘English Roses’ in full flight. It was a case of the ‘roses’ talking about their roses.

Lesley loves her place of birth and visits as often as she can but when she returns to us, she keeps on giving, assisting with garden visits, presenting as a guest speaker, and the other delightful part of Lesley, engaging with others.

I want to thank her for this as much as anything. Lesley is one of those special people who have the capacity to make others feel valued. Wayne will attest to the fact that if he’s ever at a Saturday Garden afternoon, Lesley will always find him, ask how he is, and pick up from their last conversation.

Our club is fortunate indeed to have Lesley Player as a member for many reasons and I have great pleasure in publicly acknowledging some of her contributions now and thanking her for these.

Patricia will kindly accept our gift for Lesley, on her behalf.

Hazel Sowerby: Thanked by Rosemary Edwards

Hazel Sowerby has been a stalwart of the Bangalow Garden Club for many years. Our records show that she became a member in the year 2000.  This means that she has been part of the life of this club for 23 years and across this time she has continued to serve us all.

In 2012 Hazel carried out the duties of club President.  The following year in 2013 she continued in this role but this time she shared it with Helen Johnston as Co-President. She was our club’s final President and along with Helen, our first Co-President.  Fay remembers a time when Hazel provided the garden club’s afternoon tea. If you’ve enjoyed Hazel’s cooking, you would know that in itself, would have guaranteed regular attendance at monthly meetings.

Hazel has been acknowledged for her considerable efforts in our club over a very long time by being awarded a well-earned Life Membership.

She continued to be an important part of meetings after the period of her Co-Presidency.  Amongst her many contributions, she’s been our monthly Auctioneer. This year, ten years after her time as Co-President and the same length of time as our auctioneer, Hazel decided to hand back her Auctioneer’s microphone.

When I heard this news recently, I wasn’t fully prepared for it. I recalled her final auction in October and tried to remember how she’d conducted it. It was much the same as all the others, reflecting her wry sense of humour, her extensive knowledge of plants, and her no-nonsense ‘What’s your bid for this beautiful plant?’ or ‘Hold your cards up clearly, so we can see them please’.

She has been the essence of an auctioneer. I remember describing the auction as the ‘surprise bonus’ of my first meeting when I wrongly assumed, that by that stage of the afternoon, everything was over.  As I discovered that day, the meeting was only ever over after Hazel had run the auction.

I want Hazel to know that if we’d known of her final auction, we would have done things differently to say thank you. I’ve thought that a standing ovation with all our buyers that day holding their plants on high would have been a suitable send-off, but Hazel finished up in her own way and we have many, many auctions, and her part in raising thousands of dollars for our club as good ways of remembering her in this role.

Thank you, Hazel, for your wonderful auctioneering and for everything else you continue to do for us.

Margaret Bruce. Thanked by Diana Sharpe

Well… What can I say about Margaret?  I wish that she could be with us today, but sadly, she is really unwell. I know that she is disappointed (apart from anything else she had bought a new dress for the occasion) but we can’t let her absence diminish acknowledgement of the extraordinary qualities she had brought to our Club over the last ten years.

Margaret was, for three years, a co-president with Robin Armstrong, and when her term was over, declined the opportunity to retire; instead taking on the responsibility of finding a continuous supply of fascinating guest speakers.

During my term as Vice President when I became her assistant in this endeavour, she was an enormous support; never less than enthusiastic and full of good advice. As a fairly new club member I appreciated her knowledge and common sense and valued her energy and friendship. Her devotion to volunteering – with us, with the U3A and for refugees-is inspiring.  We pay tribute and thank her for all she has contributed to our Club and wish her a speedy recovery.

Adelina Linardon: Thanked by Rosemary Edwards

Now we’ve arrived at the time to thank Adelina for her efforts as Co-President.  I’m especially pleased that her husband Victor, also a keen gardener is with us today so that he can hear how much we appreciate her.

Last year at our Christmas lunch, I thanked Adelina for agreeing to extend her time as our Co-President. She then went into what I think they call ‘extra time’ in some sporting circles, and hers was 12 months of extra time.

As I considered how to thank her, now, at the end of this time, I remembered some years ago, being part of an occasion quite like this one at around the same time of the year in a previous life of mine in a large primary school in Adelaide where I was a member of the staff.  David, our principal, thanked a much respected and admired staff member Kaye, as she prepared to leave.  I should add that Adelina is not leaving our club, just her previous position.

As he began his thanks, David relayed the story of a local Inspector of Schools well known to most of us, who was a man of few words and perhaps because of this, made it his practice never to write references for staff who worked with him.  It was unusual but that was how he operated, except on one occasion when a most outstanding teacher crossed his path.  He wrote her a reference but in keeping with his style it was very brief, in fact only two words long. It read ‘She’s great’. David then turned to us all and said ‘That’s what I think of Kaye. She’s great’. And we all knew what he meant.

Now Adelina doesn’t need a reference from anyone at this stage of her life, least of all me. You also know that I am not a person of few words but somehow the Inspector of School’s brevity and choice of words seems a perfect description of Adelina in her service to us as Co-President. If I had the honour of writing her a reference, I would add a further word and write of Adelina, that, ‘She’s really great’.

Her many qualities as our Co-President as I described them last Christmas, have been clearly apparent again this year.  Of all of these, her generosity stands out the most to me. Adelina is a most generous woman.  She is generous to her family, generous to her friends and her neighbours, and generous to us all as members of the Bangalow Garden Club.

And as I present our gift to her, generously researched by her, located at a reasonable cost and paid for by her, (she has been reimbursed), kept and nurtured for 3 months by her, wrapped by her with me (because I struggle to wrap odd shaped gifts) all, so that I could give it back to her now, I am reminded again of her very consistent generosity.

Please accept this gift with which you are very familiar already, Adelina.

Thank you for being our Co-President so well, and for so long. It is a great understatement to say, ‘You’ve been really great’.