Saturday, July 13, 2013

The significance of the death of Lucy Donoghoe

I used to listen or watch cricket and especially the Ashes, but this seems to have been crowded out in a time poor world. Still, the current Ashes series and especially Ashton Agar's huge knock at number eleven has certainly caught my attention!

I was trying to think how to explain the game to a friend who knows little about it. Difficult, actually!

News yesterday of the death of Lucy Donoghoe nee Johnstone. Lucy was the last surviving member of thepresentation of first mace, Paul Barratt Snr to Earle Page class of 1938, the first student intake at the newly established New England University College and, consequently, the first university student intake in Northern NSW, the broader New England that I write about so often.

More, she was the last surviving member of the first university student intake anyway in Australia outside the then six capital city universities. It would be a number of years before university education became available elsewhere across the broad mass of the Australian continent.

This photo from Paul Barratt shows Paul Barratt Snr presenting UNE Chancellor Sir Earle Page with the University's first mace.

Margot Watkins, a friend of Lucy's, contacted me via the Armidale Express (thanks Cindy and Lydia) because she thought that I would want to know and might write something about it. I did want to know and am already doing so. I have also contacted the University of New England via its Facebook page to see if I can get something done there,

One of the difficulties with modern organisation structures with their constant pattern of change is that they lose their history. This has practical management implications, the folk memory of what we do and why we do it, is actually very important to effective functioning. More broadly, the very history of organisations and areas becomes attenuated.

Many areas of Australia have had to fight for education. Lucy's death is significant not just for New England or for UNE. It is also a small memorial of the first success of a broader change, the movement to make university education available to all Australians no matter where they live. I think that's kind of important.        


Anonymous said...

I appreciate to be reminded of Australian unique education challenges related to the country vastness.
From my perspective, to find out that there was a woman in the first university intake in Northern NSW is pleasing and impressive. Lucy Johnstone was a good woman.

Jim Belshaw said...

Good morning, AC, and thanks. There were seventeen in that first year of which ten were women!