70th Anniversary of the Barbara Sisley Awards
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your warm welcome.
I believe that when I received the prize all those years ago – presented by Mrs Betty Stevens – the ‘quid pro quo’ was the recitation of a poem or some other presentation at the Association’s meeting held at the then Brisbane Women’s Club premises in George Street.
I was inclined to apologize today for any limited recollection of that occasion, but that I do recall it after all those decades signifies, I think, my deep feeling of appreciation for the encouragement of the Association, and also to my then teacher, Mrs Daphne Roemermman – who followed my mother in that role. (Unsurprisingly, Mrs Roemermman went on to receive an OAM, and, like the prodigious namesake of this award, lends her name to one of the Associations’ annual prizes, the Roemermman-Wragge Awards.)
Within the myriad of engagements which attend this vice-regal role, and they are amazingly varied, the arts obviously feature prominently. To my mind, targeted initiatives, like the Barbara Sisley Award, seeking to encourage particular personal achievement, are especially important.
I congratulate what I used to regard as the Speech and Drama Teachers’ Association for having maintained the award for so long. While, in my own case, my vowels currently lack the purity of the Roemermman era, the sense of assurance lent me by awards such as this has I suspect never left me; and has sustained me in all my public roles over many years.
Government House receives countless invitations for the Governor’s attendance at events of intrinsic importance. We regret that it is simply impossible that we accept more than a fraction of them. But for nostalgic and other reasons, I was immediately taken by the invitation we be here this evening, and I am most grateful you anticipated that.
Some of you may remember my delight to be with you, with my late mother, at Mr Gravatt in early 2006, when I was honoured – I was then Chief Justice – to present the Association’s annual awards. I had to leave early on that occasion, with what I hope was seen as a pretty good excuse, to attend upon our first grandchild Alexander just born at the Wesley.
No doubt many recipients of the Barbara Sisley Award, over its 70 years, will still recall the award with gratitude to the Speech and Drama Teachers’ Association. That is certainly my situation, and I am sure it will be the view of the recipients to whom I will shortly be presenting the books.
I trust our recipients also will not be too despondent by what I understand these days is called “constructive feedback”. I have brought with me tonight original records of my 1968 Licentiate practical exams, where another doyenne of the speech and drama scene, Miss Rhoda Felgate, examiner, opined: “Background knowledge was disappointing particularly with regard to Irish Dramatists.”
I wish the Association well as it continues this 70 year old tradition, with its benefit to the individual Barbara Sisley awardees, and by the ‘ripple effect’, the broader community. That public significance of the Association’s work is, of course, consistent with the circumstance that this event is taking place at Parliament House.
The Association has my warmest best wishes. Thank you.