Morisset Public School 125th Anniversary

13th September 2016

Mr GREG PIPER ( Lake Macquarie ) ( 17:34 :10 ): All members have schools in their electorates with wonderful stories to tell of the achievements of their students and faculty. Many of those schools are equally renowned for the wonderful lives, careers and stories that their former students create in their post-school years. Last Friday I was among many special guests at the 125th anniversary celebrations held at Morisset Public School. The school is one of those that can proudly reflect on its history and its former students. It was wonderful to meet the school's oldest surviving former student, 95-year-old Phyllis Trimble, who was on hand to ring the school bell with the school's two youngest students, Tiffany White and Elizabeth Swan.

The bell itself was thought to have been lost when the school moved premises in 1985, but it was thankfully later found at a Fennell Bay home, where it was being used as a door bell. It has now been restored and re-dedicated to the school. Ms Trimble recalled how she was unable to ring the bell when she attended the school as a student between 1927 and 1933 because girls were simply not afforded the honour. Thankfully, those days are well behind us. The celebrations also featured the official launch of a book by renowned local historian Doug Saxon entitled Morisset Memories 1891-2016. I was honoured to have been asked to launch the book, which details the remarkable history of the town and, of course, the large part played by the school in shaping that history. Among the stories in the book is that of Bernie Goodwin, whose life was honoured in 1974 when a memorial park was dedicated to him.

Born in 1928, Bernie attended Morisset Public School until 1935. He went on to serve in the Second World War, and was lucky enough to return to Morisset with life and limb intact. He later bought the local bus service, which did the regular school runs as well as tourist trips. On 15 March 1973, Bernie lost his life trying to rescue four young swimmers at Moonee Beach. He had driven the boys to the beach as part of a school excursion by students from Morisset High School. He saw that the boys were caught in a rip and acted selflessly to save them. He brought three to shore and then swam out again to rescue the fourth. However, the strong current swept him and the young teenager about 300 metres out to sea. The Newcastle Herald reported at the time that Bernie hung onto the teen before three surfers pulled the boy to safety, but Bernie disappeared and was never found.

Hope Mullard was Bernie's cousin, and his extraordinary life is also covered in Doug Saxon's book. Hope joined the Royal Australian Air Force at the age of 19. After the war, he studied engineering and architecture, but returned to Morisset in 1953 and opened a service station. He then began a remarkable crusade campaigning for community projects. His work saw the establishment of Morisset Golf Club, where he later served as president for 19 years. He also served as president of Morisset Rotary Club, was a long-time member of the local fire brigade and even ran a movie theatre at the local hall for many years until television came along and demand for community movie nights faded.

Robert "Dutchy" Holland was another of the school's high achievers. Bob attended the school between 1952 and 1957 and played a lot of cricket there and on his family's farm just down the road. Of course, he went on to play cricket for New South Wales and Australia. His best-known sporting achievement was the 10 wickets he took against the West Indies in a test match in 1986. I extend my best wishes to Bob and his wife, Carolyn, who were recently seriously assaulted while trying to protect a local cricket ground. We are all pleased they are both recovering.

I have acknowledged Doug Saxon and his wonderful work, and I extend the same acknowledgement to the school's current principal, Kathryn Duncan, and her staff, who have gone to great effort to celebrate and preserve the history of the school and its place in the town of Morisset. I am very proud of Morisset and its wonderful community. When it was first established it was an isolated settlement to the south of Lake Macquarie. Roads were dusty tracks and the town survived mainly on the back of local farms, logging, the Morisset Hospital, and its proximity to the main northern rail line. It has come a long way, and I have no doubt that our local schools, their students, teachers and the school community have played a big part in making our area such a great place to live. Morisset has a great history, and with a strong community such as that found at Morisset Public School I am sure it will also have a great future. I am sure that the House will join with me in wishing Morisset Public School a happy 125th anniversary.

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Private members' statements having concluded, and in accordance with the standing and sessional orders, the House now stands adjourned until Wednesday 14 September 2016 at 10.00 a.m.

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