The Australian Report 13/14


This year’s St George’s Day function at the State Library of New South Wales on 23rd April was held as a tribute to Sir Ninian Stephen’s twentieth Anniversary of his appointment by Her Majesty The Queen as a Knight Companion of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, and in celebration of his ninetieth birthday. Whilst Sir Ninian was unable to be with us on the day, Life Friend Dr Douglas Sturkey, CVO, AM, gave a moving address, highlighting Sir Ninian’s contributions to the law, to Australia as its Governor-General, and to international affairs, including his active participation in the deliberations of the International Court of Justice.

I was honoured to have been present at Sir Ninian’s Installation Ceremony at St George’s Chapel on 13th June 1994, and am deeply grateful for the support which he has given to the Australian Friends since then. Over the years, we have been delighted to have Sir Ninian and Lady Stephen come to several St George’s Day functions. In 1998 they were Guests of Honour at the University of Sydney for a formal dinner to celebrate the 650th Anniversary of the founding of the Order of the Garter and the seventieth birthday of Her Majesty The Queen. Sir Ninian was the Guest Speaker at a St George’s Day Reception at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, on 18th May 1999, at the invitation of the Dean of Melbourne, the Rt Revd James Grant, who also has been a wonderful supporter of the Australian Friends.

At our St George’s Day function, we celebrated Her Majesty’s birthday and the arrival in Australia of Their Royal Highnesses, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George. A presentaion was made to the Mitchell Librarian, Mr Richard Neville, of the 2012/13 Annual Review.  This was added to the fifty-seven Annual Reports dating from 1951-2008 which Peter Fitzhardinge-Seton had donated, and those donated annually since then by the Society to the Mitchell Library. We thank Richard Nevliie for his continued support.

As I am retiring as the Australian Representative, I was delighted to be able to make my last cheque presentation under the Australian Window in the Dean’s Cloister, on Friday 15th August. I handed a cheque for $10,000 for the on=going work of the Society to Canon Martin Poll, in the presence of Colonel David Steele and Annette Parsons.  I was very pleased to have supporting me three Australian Friends: Geoffrey McMahon, a generous supporter of the Australian fund-raising efforts, who made a special trip from America; Mary Drost, who came from Melbourne; and Robyn Gupta, an Australian Friend who lives in England.

Mrs Valerie Grogan presenting the cheque to Canon Poll

I was deeply moved when Canon Poll presented me with a beautiful commemorative plate, to mark my retirement after twenty-five years as the Australian Representative. Afterwards we were joined by Sarah Steele and Bridget Wright for a most enjoyable luncheon in Windsor.  It was wonderful to have time to talk about the support the Friends in Australia have been given over the years by successive Hon.secretaries; Tom Taylor, and those who visited Australia – Tim O’Donovan, Nigel Hill, and Colonel Axson, and Hon. Treasurer Andrew Goodhart.  Their visits were invaluable, as our Friends heard first-hand about the society.  I wish to thank each of them, and Colonel Steele, for their friendship and support over thses twenty-five years, and also to Rosemary Menzies, Jane Speller, Joan Biggs and Annette Parsons for their tireless assistance and encouragement.

The group of Australian Friends with Canon Poll, David Steele and Annette Parsons in the Cloisters.

As I reflect on my tenure as the Australian Representative, I have greatly appreciated the wonderful support given by two Australian Knights of the Garter, Sir Ninian Stephen and Sir Paul Hasluck.  sir Paul made a stirring address about St George’s Chapel, the Order of the Garter and the Society and its relevance to Australians, at The Queen’s Birthday Reception at the University of Sydney on 23rd April 1990.  Following his death in 1993, I attended the installation of his Banner and Crest in St George’s Cathedral, Perth, W.A., on 17th Spetember 1995. In his memory, the Australian Friends, with support from regular worshippers at the Chapel, donated a new Paschal Candle-stand for St George’s Chapel.  I am grateful to his son, the Hon. Justice Nicholas Hasluck, AM, QC, and daughter-in-law, Sally-Anne, for their continued support of the Australian Friends.

We are all indebted to Paul Grabham for his idea for the Australian Window in the Dean’s Cloister, to commemorate the Centenary of Australian Federation and the Golden Jubilee. his very hard work ensured that it was fully funded and completed by St George’s Day 2002. Following a sepcial Evensong, in which the choir of St Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, sang, HRH The Duke of Gloucester spoke warmly of the Australia-Windsor connection. the Dean of Windsor then dedicated the Window in the presence of many Australain Friends. It will continue to serve as an Australian link to us.

We are also appreciative of the late Peter Fitzhardinge-Seton in compiling the History of the Australian membership. A specially-bound and inscribed copy was presented to Her Majesty The Queen as our gift for her eightieth birthday, and a special copy was sent to His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, President of the Society, for his birthday on 14th November 2006.

As this is my last Report as the Austrlaian Representative, I wish to thank Dean Mitchell and Dean Conner, the Honorary Secretaries and Friends for their support of me and the Australian Friends. It has been a privilege to be involved in contributing toward the maintenance and upkeep of this beautiful Chapel. I should like to thank the Australian Friends for their loyalty and continuing generosity.

I particularly thank those who have helped me for all twenty-five years: my sister, Helen Booth, Angela Lind and Mary Drost, who is retiring as the Victorian Hon. Secertary. I am delighted that she will be succeded by Robert thomson, who has given much support in Victoria. More recently, I have valued the assistance of my daughter Mandy Anderson, Patricia Middleton and my godson, Alistair Booth.

I am grateful for the assistance I ahve received from around Australia. When I succeeded Mrs Arthur Wade as the Australian Representatvie on 1st October 1989, I appreceiated the help given to me by the Queensland Hon. Secretary, Jill Ryan, during the transition period and afterwards. I am grateful for the initiative taken by many, including from Victoria, Ann Rusden and David Studham, the Melbourne Cricket Ground Librarian, who has organised functions as the MCC and the University of Melbourne. David Stephens has been arranging for Friends to attend functions in Western Australia. Berta von Bibra of Tasmania and her sister in Perth, Marie Louise Wordsworth, descendants of King Edward III, have given wonderful support and enrolled thier eighteen children and grandchildren as Life Descendant members of the Society.

I shall be succeeded as the Australian Representative by Richard Nott, AM, a Life Member of the Friends of St Geroge’s. Richard is based in Sydney. He lived in London for four years, where he becasme associated with St George’s Chapel. He has held many positions, including President of the Australia-Britain Society in New South Wales for ten years. He will bring enthusiasm, energy and industry to the role based on a strong link with Australia-British cultural traditions. I warmly welcome him, and wish him and all Australian Friends every success in their support of the future well-being of St Georges’ Chapel.



The Queen's Free Chapel. The Chapel of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of the Garter. The Chapel of the College of St George.