Friends of the Hill gather

Published date22 March 2023
'Friends of the Hill' Charitable Trust members have been meeting biannually for 29 years with 53 registered for the latest event

It began with a Friday night registration and gathering at the Westport RSA then from 10-2pm on the Saturday, the group gathered at the Friends of the Hill Museum in Denniston for an official welcome, luncheon and photos and reminiscing. Many visited their former family home sites.

An evening meal followed in Westport with a morning tea and farewell on the Sunday.

Trust chairman Gary James, who with his wife, Silvia, have lived on the Plateau for 36 years, officiated while Bev Poynter was instrumental in planning the event.

West Coast Tasman MP Damien O'Connor also addressed the group, sharing the story of his own grandmother, Winifred McPadden, who taught in Denniston in 1905.

She had been an early secretary for the union movement on the Hill prior to the establishment of the Labour Party in Blackball in 1908, Mr O'Connor said.

"As the members were ageing, it was decided they needed some 'younger blood' to do the organising and it was felt it needed to actually be held on the Hill," said Mr James.

"People felt they needed to 'come home' for the event. In its day, around 300 would attend."

'Friends of the Hill' purchased the Denniston High School building from the Mines Department where it had been used for a store.

"It was full of junk but by 1996, it was in a fit enough state for our first get together. We have used P1it ever since as well as it having held all sorts of other events there," Mr James said.

Mr James was...

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