Afternoon Tea for 125th anniversary of Braille House
Civic Cabinet Chair for Community, Arts and Nighttime Economy, Councillor Vicki Howard; Councillor for Tennyson Nicole Johnston; Braille House Management Committee Chair, Ms Jacqueline Parker and Committee Members; Braille House General Manager, Mr Richard Barker and Executives; Distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen.
I begin by acknowledging the original custodians of the lands on which we gather, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respects to Elders, past, present and emerging. I extend my respects to any First Nations people here today.
Graeme and I are delighted that you are able to be here at Government House today to mark the 125th anniversary of the Queensland Braille Writing Association – which we’ve come to know as Braille House – and to celebrate the organisation’s long connection with Government House.
I have been particularly pleased to discover that one of the organisation’s co-founders and its very first patron was the marvellous Lady Lamington.
The Lamingtons oversaw Queensland’s transition from colony to State from their base in Old Government House, and while, today, they are most remembered for giving their name to an iconic Australian cake – the lamington – they left their mark on the young colony in many other ways.
It’s worth remembering that the Lamingtons were only in their mid-twenties when Lord Charles Wallace Lamington was appointed as Governor in 1896. But both he and Lady May – as she was affectionately called – took on the patronage role with great enthusiasm. This was no “fine lady’s craze or fashionable hobby”; this remarkable mother of two young children quickly established a reputation as a hard-working patron.
In addition to accepting the position of patron of the Braille Writing Association, she was very active in other charitable organisations. Along with opening a new cookery school in the Brisbane Technical College, she was also instrumental in establishing the Lady Lamington Hospital for the Diseases of Women, and the Lady Lamington Nurses Home. She even trained as a nurse so she could take her turn on volunteer rosters at the hospital.
Described as “a most loveable women”, Lady May was the ideal patron for Braille House and today, 125 years later, Braille remains as important as ever.
I am delighted today to be able to follow the example of my predecessor as Governor, His Excellency the Honourable Paul de Jersey AC, by presenting both a certificate of patronage and the latest in a series of children's picture books produced by Government House in Braille for the Braille House library.
‘A Place for All Queenslanders’ follows a day-in-the-life of Mac and Mary, two squirrel gliders who live on the Government House estate. With their kookaburra friend, Goodwin, Mac and Mary learn all about the Governor’s constitutional, ceremonial and civic duties, before being invited by the Governor inside Government House – ‘a place for everyone’.
Since the book was launched last year, Graeme and I have read it at schools all around the State, because we want to ensure that as many Queenslanders as possible feel welcome here.
I thank you again for joining us this afternoon and do hope your youngest readers find this an enjoyable addition to the Braille House library.