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Past Student News
Welcome to our third newsletter for 2021. I am writing this newsletter welcome after spending the past three days celebrating with many Old Girls at their 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 and 60+ (VIP) reunions. This year there was a special feeling during the weekend. Even though many Old Girls could not attend their reunion due to the continuing global pandemic, you were all represented and thought about over the weekend.
Connecting was definitely the theme for this year’s reunions. Through many conversations over the weekend, the main topic was how do we connect and support each other and the school that connected and supported us through our education. Therefore, for me as the President of the OGA, my main goal for the rest of this year is to investigate a way for us all to connect and support each other and the school.
In the meantime, there are two ways coming up where you can connect with and celebrate those in your cohort.
Firstly, on Saturday 24 October, the OGA will host the first Old Girls' Cocktail Event. This evening will be held on Circular Drive (with the best view in Brisbane) and it is hoped that this will become an annual event for those who are looking for a way to connect with their cohort between the reunion years. Keep an eye out for the invitation at the end of this month.
Next, the Past Student Award nominations are open for next year’s event. There are so many past students who have excelled in their fields. Visit the school website to fill in the nomination form. Nominate someone from your cohort who has demonstrated the spirit of the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent and has proven to be confident, capable, compassionate and able to contribute to the world.
Remember, the OGA Committee is always looking for feedback as to how to connect our association. If you have any ideas for the committee, please share them with me. You can email me at email@example.com
Have you participated in the One School/One Book initiative at St Margaret’s? We are encouraging all members of the St Margaret’s school community to read Eddie Jaku’s book The Happiest Man on Earth. After a show of hands at a recent assembly, it appears that a large number of our students have read the book and parents have also indicated to me that they are participating and enjoying it too. I hope that our Old Girls might wish to be involved as well.
At our celebration for St Margaret’s Day on 16 July, we picked up on one of the important themes in Eddie Jaku’s book that ‘Kindness is the greatest wealth of all'.
This theme will also be picked up in our annual magazine,The Link, and at other appropriate times for the remainder of the year.
I am writing this article immediately after the Reunion Weekend where we have just hosted 380 past students. Our numbers were down significantly because so many could not join us from interstate or overseas. Nevertheless, it was lovely to see so many past students eager to catch up and enjoying the company once more of their year group. I was particularly excited to catch up with some of the students from 2011; this is the first time I have been at a reunion weekend where the students returning attended St Margaret’s in my era of principalship.
Throughout the weekend, many Old Girls remarked to me that the school’s environment had changed significantly. There is still more work to be done on the site and the exciting news is that, during this term, the building below (with its most recent use as the school supplies shop) will be demolished to make way for two brand new secondary school classrooms (see concept design).
This building, just next to the smaller pool, was built in 1956 to be a gymnasium for physical education lessons and ballet dancing. It was a very basic design as you can see from the photos! It continued to be used as a gym until the Philip Harris Sports Centre was built in 1996. It then became an art space as an extension to Mayo Art. It has been the School Supplies Shop more recently, as in, the last 12 years or so.
Per Volar Sunata
It was a pleasure to welcome over 380 past students back to St Margaret’s for the annual Reunion Weekend from Friday 23 to Monday 26 July. Reunion Weekend is always a wonderful time, and this year was particularly special as we welcomed twice as many cohorts following a pause on reunions in 2020. While COVID-19 did cause some disruption again this year, from mask wearing to the company missed due to lockdowns and border closures, it cannot disrupt the life-long and deeply felt connections formed during your time here at St Margaret’s.
Friday evening welcomed the 10, 20 and 30-year reunion cohorts, with events in Eton Hall, Arts Centre Foyer (ACF) and Ms Café. A total of six luncheons were hosted for the 40, 50 and 60-year reunion cohorts across Saturday and Sunday in M’s Café, the ACF and the Boarders Dining Hall. The Chapel Service was held on Sunday afternoon followed by a delightful afternoon tea, giving those in attendance another opportunity to catch up and reconnect. The VIP 60+ luncheon saw over 60 guests treated to a special luncheon on the final day of the reunion celebrations on Monday 26 July.
Feedback about the Reunion Weekend reflects the happy memories shared by each cohort and that, while the school has grown, the spirit of St Margaret’s remains unchanged. Robin Cooley, class of ’60, kindly shared her experience of her reunion:
‘All the hard work and planning resulted in giving us, the class of 1960, a most memorable day.
We marvelled at the extensive improvements which were pointed out by our lovely young guide. This walk around gave us an insight into the lives of today’s girls who benefit from the wide range of both academic and non-academic facilities they are so fortunate to have the opportunity to use.
Mixed in with all that was new, there was still so much that was familiar to us as well. In the dining room we had the time and opportunity to chat about this as we renewed long term friendships while enjoying a delicious lunch.’
Ann Brett, class of ’61, also generously shared her memories of both the reunion and her time at St Margaret’s:
‘As for Archivist Bronwyn...her displays were super and we LOVED the rolling video. In fact, at the end, a group of us sat and watched it through twice. I personally enjoyed the Mt Buller pics - that was so-o-o-o-o-o long ago!
As I walked back to my car, I took a diversion to check out the 25-metre pool which in many ways hasn't changed much. Such happy memories there - especially the (now gone) 1m diving board and the climb up the ladder which lent against the changing room gutter (no WHS rules then!) so we could practise our 3m jump for our lifesaving exam! And two notable women in the aquatic field in both Queensland and Australian aquatic history (Miss Mabel Springfield and Mrs Gwen Welford, who is still alive and in her 90s) worked out of that pool to guide us girls with swimming and lifesaving skills. We were so fortunate to have such skilled people advising us.’
A special thank you goes to school archivist Bronwyn Perry for putting together the slide shows that were enjoyed by each class year. The 2021 reunions are the last Bronwyn will prepare for, with her retirement approaching at the end of this year. We would also like to thank everyone who generously donated to the St Margaret’s Foundation Scholarship Fund, collectively raising $3,900 to help make a difference to a girl who has ambitions and much to offer, but for whom access to a St Margaret’s education has not been possible.
Next year we will again host milestone reunion celebrations for the classes of 2012, 2002, 1992, 1982, 1972, 1962. Once again, the VIP 60+ Luncheon will also be held on the final day of the reunion celebrations. Dates for the reunions are yet to be announced but please keep an eye out for news about this soon.
Please contact the Development and Community office on (07) 3862 0768 or firstname.lastname@example.org to update your contact details to ensure you are included in Reunion Weekend communications. You can also update them via a form on the website.
Over 130 schoolgirls and eight teachers and staff at St Margaret’s will cut off their ponytails on Monday 23 August to raise funds for Australians impacted by cancer. At the time this edition was written, this group have exceeded their goal of $100,000 with $106,300 raised for the cause.
The Ponytail Project initiative was first launched in 2015 by a group of St Margaret’s students, in response to the news a parent among the school community had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Sadly, in 2016, St Margaret’s students had even more reason to support the cause after the loss of one of their beloved teachers, Amanda Minotti ('93), who was also a past student, to cancer. Through St Margaret’s Ponytail Project, over 360 St Margaret’s students have raised over $375,000 for Australian families affected by cancer.
The groundswell of support in its first two years ensured the Ponytail Project became an annual campaign for the St Margaret’s community and, in 2019, the movement was encouraged in schools state-wide after being adopted by Cancer Council Queensland.
Proceeds from the St Margaret’s Ponytail Project will be donated to Cancer Council Queensland and the Minotti Trust (established to support the Amanda Minotti's young family).
The ponytails will be donated to Real Fringe Hairbands to help those who have lost their hair due to a medical condition.
St Margaret's Principal Ros Curtis said the school encourages students to give back to the community. “We assist our students to develop the practice of lifelong giving through philanthropic activities like the Ponytail Project. These opportunities empower the girls to experience how their actions can make a positive difference in the lives of others and inspire them to continue on a journey as philanthropists into their adult lives. The Ponytail Project requires the girls to do much more than fundraise and donate money though. It requires the girls to give something of themselves – to donate their own hair. I am immensely proud of their willingness to do this in today’s age of technology and social media, where much emphasis can be placed on appearance, particularly with reference to females,” Ms Curtis said.
Cancer Council Queensland CEO Ms Chris McMillan commended the students on their efforts and dedication to the cause. “Ponytail Project empowers students to make a change in the world by supporting people with cancer; people who have not had the choice to lose their hair while they go through treatment,” said Ms McMillan.
“Those involved in the Ponytail Project have realised that losing some of their hair is a small thing to do to make a big difference in the lives of others, and on behalf of Cancer Council Queensland I thank St Margaret’s whole-heartedly for their efforts.”
St Margaret’s Old Girls are encouraged to nominate esteemed alumni for the Past Student Awards. The Past Student Awards were first established in 2015 to:
There are two award categories:
To make a nomination for the 2022 Awards, please complete a nomination form (PDF 1MB) and submit by Friday 25 March 2022 then join us for the Past Student Awards Cocktail Evening on Saturday 23 April 2022. More details about past award winners can be found here.
Kim Serafini (‘90) is an entrepreneur, executive and business advisor, author and world-class speaker in the field of positive psychology. Her passion for health and wellness, self-care and technological solutions has led to a fascinating and fulfilling career.
Looking back on her time at school, Kim is ‘very proud of the fact I was a St Margaret’s girl’. She remembers being ‘very sporty’ and appreciating the opportunities the sports and activities clubs presented – like learning scuba diving and sailing. Certain teachers also had a lasting influence, such as her modern history teacher Mrs Davidson, who ‘deliberately chose to see my strengths and talents and remind me to focus on them’ and fostered Kim’s desire to live and work in Europe. As someone who was a ‘real perfectionist and bit of a stress head even at 16 and 17’, Kim wishes she had been able to realise that ‘even at 40 most people still don’t know what they want to do when they grow up – and that’s ok!’.
Kim completed a Bachelor of Commerce at Bond University and went on to secure a role at a public relations firm in Sydney, specialising in corporate communications and government relations. She then pursued her dream of working overseas, as a management consultant in London in the field of mergers and acquisitions. The CEO of a client recommended Anthony Robbins’ cassette tapes to her and listening to them to and from work helped her manage the demands of the corporate world and expanded her interest in positive psychology. However, it was at a retreat that the words ‘make your vacation your vocation’ - the principle being ‘you’re only really at peace when you’re doing something you love’ struck a chord. Having always loved massage, Kim pivoted to study osteopathy and exercise physiology and became a sports therapist. With an entrepreneurial spirit in her family, she had always wanted to not only run her own business but ‘do things that hadn’t been done before’. It was thinking about ways to make massage more efficient and effective that led Kim to create what is now known as the ‘hot stone massage’ under the brand Lithos Therapy, going on to train thousands of therapists and secure global distributorships for the practice.
Kim later founded PositivePrime, an online platform centred on mindfulness and coaching exercises based on the latest science in positive psychology. In 2006, she wrote (and published) the book ‘i am gr8ful for life’. While initially printed for distribution in the spa industry, it was so popular it became a bestseller. Kim was invited to speak to students on the principles of gratitude in the book and has since established an initiative whereby the PositivePrime platform can be accessed by teachers free of charge.
Kim considers herself one of the ‘luckiest people on the planet’ to be able to run her business from her base on the Sunshine Coast, with a team all over the world. She is sought after as a public speaker and in 2017 Oprah included PositivePrime's key product as part of an e-course. Her journey has not been without its professional and personal challenges and she has been ‘more contemplative over the past year than most’, after having a cardiac pacemaker implanted due to multiple episodes of her heart stopping. She credits ‘grit’, or having a tenacious attitude, in helping overcome these challenges. Kim believes that ‘real meaning comes from how much you are uplifting others in some way’ and her successes are reflective of this, as well as ‘being very demanding on myself in figuring out what I truly love and finding that rather than settling for the comfortable path’.
Elizabeth-Anne passed away on Sunday 16 May. She was a beloved sister, wife, mother and grandmother. Elizabeth-Anne lived a long and happy life, attending Ascot State School and then St Margaret’s. Still a young girl when war broke out, the uncertainty of those times and air raid sirens and drills were unsettling for her, as it was for most. She otherwise had a happy childhood.
Elizabeth-Anne did very well during her time at school and made great friends. Her interests in chemistry led her to study the male-dominated profession of pharmacy, and on graduating, commenced her apprenticeship in a pharmacy on Racecourse Road at Ascot. In time, she took over ownership of the pharmacy.
In 1951, Longreach grazier Neil Peters dropped in to visit his sister Peg who owned the pharmacy on Racecourse Road. There he was greeted by the new apprentice, Elizabeth-Anne Tomlinson. A romance developed between Longreach and Brisbane and, in 1957, the two announced their engagement. They married at St Augustine’s at Hamilton in 1958 and would remain happily married for the next 61 years until separated by Neil’s death in 2019.
It is hard to imagine how Elizabeth-Anne adjusted to going from the constant interaction of the pharmacy on Racecourse Road and social life as a young woman in Brisbane to the incredible isolation of a 26,000-acre sheep property 60 miles from Longreach. However, she embraced western life, and loved it, and it became a deep part of who she was.
In 1970, Queen Elizabeth visited Camden Park Station, just outside Longreach. At the time, Neil was on the Longreach Council, and as the wife of one of the councillors, Elizabeth-Anne was selected to sit with the Queen during lunch. The two of them sat and talked over lunch, with Elizabeth-Anne providing assuring words from one mother to another that Princess Ann would be safe flying that day to Goondiwindi, and that people were very accustomed to travelling the distances they had come that day to see the Queen.
In 1975, they made the difficult decision to leave Longreach after nearly 20 years together at Laidlaw. They were difficult times. The west was experiencing terrible drought, and schooling awaited their children.
Back in Brisbane, Elizabeth-Anne became a keen tennis player and took up Mahjong and Bridge. She also dedicated over 20 years to supporting Meals on Wheels, and, driven by the values of family and faith, was always quick to reach out to someone less fortunate than herself.
Elizabeth-Anne had an ability to make everyone feel special, and to make friends wherever she went. It just seemed people wanted to talk to her, and she was always willing to oblige.
Fay sadly passed away on Sunday 9 May at a Mothers’ Day lunch at Kirra North Surf Club, aged 80 years. Fay was the much-loved mother and mother-in-law to her son, Paul (dec) and his wife, Jennifer, and to her daughter, Nicole and Nicole's husband, Geoff. She was a devoted grandmother to Jamie and identical twin sister of Gay Bruce.
Fay and her sister, Gay, were inseparable, possessing that very special bond and unique relationship, endowed with seemingly telepathic qualities. They were also dressed the same until they were 18 years of age, as their mother was a beautiful seamstress and knitter, and Fay took after her in this regard. Both Fay and Gay inherited their mother’s and father’s passion for sport, with tennis becoming a constant theme in their professional and family life. Their mother, Betty Tummon (nee Webb), was a wonderful role model for her daughters, also representing Queensland in cricket.
During their childhood in Warwick, Fay (pictured standing far left) and Gay (pictured standing far right) learned to play the game of tennis and built an ant-bed tennis court in the backyard. By the time the sisters moved to Brisbane at the age of 16 and attended St Margaret’s as boarders for their senior years of schooling, they were well and truly on their game and were in the highly successful Tennis A Team during this time. Together, Fay and Gay won the doubles for St Margaret’s with Gay also winning the singles.
After leaving school, Fay studied Teaching in early childhood at Kelvin Grove Teachers College and later, Education at The University of Queensland. Fay became teacher and tennis coach, teaching infants and primary students in Queensland in Grantham for a couple of years and then in New South Wales. While residing in the Northern Beaches and North Shore of Sydney, close by to her parents, she taught at Balgowlah North Public School, Manly Public School and Manly West Public School. Fay and Gay both ended up teaching at Manly West Public School at the same time, with Fay teaching infants and Gay teaching primary classes and physical education.
Her passions outside of academia were incorporated into the wholistic education she delivered, teaching tennis and exercises to music to her classes daily. She also helped with developing the music curriculum for New South Wales during her time living and teaching there.
Fay passed her love of sport onto her children. Paul became a professional tennis coach and ran two major tennis centres in New York, while Nicole, a University medallist during her time completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Movement, was winner of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Women and Sport Award, and represented NSW in multiple sports. Pictured left is Gay Bruce and Fay Chambers (Tummon twins) at South Bank, Brisbane, February 2021.
After Fay’s time residing in Sydney and her 40-year career in teaching, she retired and moved to Banora Point in Northern New South Wales. Fay and Gay’s faith has always been extremely important to them, with them both being involved in Anglican churches during their many moves. Teaching Sunday schools, running youth groups, being on church committees and having their children involved in the church has always been a priority for the sisters.
Fay’s service was held at the St Paul's Anglican Church in Palm Beach, Queensland on Wednesday 26 May. Fay’s ashes will be placed in her family plot at Tweed Heads Memorial Gardens located in Tweed Heads South off Kirkwood Street. Fay enjoyed a life well lived and is sadly missed by those who she held dear. If you would like to contact Gay Bruce (nee Tummon), she can be reached on 0414 498 604.
Please note the upcoming events that will be of interest to our past student community.
Professional Women’s Network Breakfast – 7.00am 20 October 2021, Arts Centre Foyer with Ruth Drinkwater (pictured left).
Ruth has had a diverse career with more than 20 years' experience in management, business development, marketing and commercialisation, investment in emerging technology companies and capital raising.
She has been at the forefront of change in angel investment and start-up activity. As an experienced non-executive director, Ruth has sat on several boards and advisory panels. She is currently chair of Alkira Software Pty Ltd and Mrs Clucks Pty Ltd and a past CEO of Alkira Software, as well as a past director of a number of other quasi-Government, university and private company boards. She is a co-founder of Mrs Clucks, continues as a member of the Queensland Government's Advance Queensland grant assessment committee and is a long term member of Brisbane Angels.
Old Girls' Association Cocktail Event – 6.00pm 23 October 2021, Arts Centre Foyer
Save the date for the inaugural Old Girls Cocktail Event. It is hoped this will become an annual event for those who are looking for a way to connect with their cohort between the reunion years. Invitations will be sent closer to the date.
Old Girls' Association Annual General Meeting – 7.00pm – 9.00pm 26 October 2021, Mooloomburram Board Room
All Old Girls are welcome to attend the OGA Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 26 October 2021. If you are based in Brisbane or this meeting coincides with a visit, we hope you will join us to learn more about how you can connect or volunteer with the Old Girls' Association. Keep an eye out for an invitation soon.
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An independent day and boarding school for girls from Pre-Prep to Year 12; Boarding from Year 5; Boys Pre-Prep and Prep
A School of the Sisters of the Society of the Sacred Advent St Margaret's School Council Ltd ABN: 69069684019 CRICOS Code: 00511K