Today's article mentions my great grandparents John Joseph Donnelly, his wife Bridget Anastasia Donnelly (nee Lambert) and their son Mervyn Donnelly (my grandfather). John Donnelly was the teacher at Fernleigh School at the time of this newspaper article.
Source: EMPIRE DAY. (1923, May 31). Northern Star (Lismore, NSW : 1876 - 1954), , p. 6. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article93431076
Fernleigh was en fete on Empire Day. Celebrations were held at the local school. The weather was ideal, and Fernleigh school has to its credit the honour of holding the most successful picnic that has ever taken place locally. Members of the Parents and Citizens Association and an enthusiastic gathering of parents, friends, and visitors were present.
The mornings proceedings began by the forming of a hollow square round the flagpole by the school pupils (who were assembled by the teacher, Mr. J.J. Donnelly). The Union Jack which was flapping brightly in the sunshine was saluted, and after the singing of the National Anthem in the presence of a large and most appreciative gathering, the pupils were marched into the school (which was becomingly decorated for the day with flags and flowers) and rendered a very entertaining programme of patriotic songs and recitations. They acquitted themselves in a most praiseworthy manner.
Mr. W. Fredericks, president of the Parents and Citizens' Association, presided during the morning's proceedings. Mr. Donnelly read the messages from the King and Queen. Some of the items rendered by the pupils were: "The Star Cross Flag of Australia", "God Bless the Prince of Wales", "Love of Country", "A British Boy", "Advance Australia Fair", "The Red, White and Blue", "The British Lion" and "Nearer my God to Thee".
Mr. W. Fredericks addressed the pupils and visitors. He said: "We are gathered here to-day- Empire Day. We celebrate Empire Day to strengthen the spirit of loyalty in the British Empire, and in remembrance of our late good Queen Victoria. All over Britain's widespread Dominions, wherever the Union Jack flies, the people, irrespective of race, creed, or colour, are united to-day in celebrating Empire Day. What a fine spirit of loyalty it shows, and when we saluted the flag this morning, from the youngest girl to the oldest woman, and the oldest man to the youngest boy, our hearts should beat with joy- joy because we belong to the great British Empire. Wherever the Union Jack flies there is freedom, freedom for every man, woman and child. You, boys and girls, have a great future before you and you must try and live up to the high standard set by those before you. To do this you must be loyal. Be loyal to your parents, to your teacher, and to your country. If you do this, you cannot fail to be good citizens. Be honest, and never be afraid to tell the truth. I wish to thank Mr. and Mrs. Donnelly and Mervyn Donnelly for the fine programme which has been rendered, and I ask all here to join in a hearty vote of thanks to be carried by acclamation."
Mr. Donnelly thanked the chairman for his kind appreciation and said what little had been done was soiree of keen pleasure, and he hoped they would celebrate many more Empire Days at Fernleigh as successfully as the present. After thanking the residents and visitors present for their kindly interest in the school and for their united assistance in helping to make the day's outing the greatest success in the way of a school gathering that was ever held at Fernleigh, the National Anthem was sung by all present, when all dispersed to enjoy the day in real picnic style. Chains were provided by Mr. Prior and Mr. O'Meagher for swings, and needless to say, full toll was taken out of them by the children. The young people indulged to their heart's content in the usual picnic games. The school tennis courts were liberally patronised by lovers of the game. The catering was in the capable hands of the local ladies. After lunch there were skipping contests, throwing at the wicket, obstacle races, football, foot races for boys and girls, and peanut and lolly scrambles in galore. Every child received a prize and lollies. A liberal sum was subscribed towards prizes for each event.
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