Big Brother Movement Reunion in Gold Coast
“I doubted that there would be anyone else who came out on the same ship as myself. Clearly, I was wrong.”
Stuart Gearey (Orontes ’57), a Little Brother who was “aiming for life on the land”, had not expected to ever reconnect with any of the lads who embarked with him on the five-week voyage to Australia in 1959. Whilst he married the daughter of another Little Brother (James Lyburn, Largs Bay ’29), he had assumed that, with the changes in migration schemes, the Big Brother Movement had long become defunct.
Yet, just as he had literally held on to his two suitcases full of memories from his Little Brother days, others did likewise. Unbeknown to many, BBM’s volunteers led by Dick Steell (Fairsea ’63), set their sights on finding those far-flung Little Brothers and their memories.
As more and more Little Brothers got back in touch with the BBM and reconnected with each other, the idea of local reunions was born, and now the time had come for the first Queensland Little Brother Reunion.
On August 16, at the Kurrawa Surf Club at Broadbeach, twenty Little Brothers, whose arrivals spanned 1950-1966, came together for an afternoon to share lunch, stories and memorabilia from their journeys and time in Australia.
Among those who spoke were Steve Noble (Strathnaver ’50), who had organised the reunion and opened the proceedings, Trevor Peart (Himalaya ’66) and Eddy Steele (Orontes ’57) who had relocated from Sydney to Tweed Heads last year. Many knew Eddy as the face of the BBM in the Sydney office, and as past Director of the organisation.
An amazing set of circumstances led to Stuart Gearey, Ray Lea (Fairsky ’60) and Lawrence Poysden (New Australia ’55) finding each other in the local community near Beaudesert and recognising the fact that we all shared a common experience in the adventure of emigrating to Australia. All attended the reunion.
Several Little Brothers have written books about their journeys, and Dave Tindall (Fairsky ’63) and Geoff Palmer (Iberia ’59) both talked about their experiences in “The Ten Pound Tourist” and “My Life in Australia”
“Every Little Brother’s experience is different, but for me the BBM opened the doors to incredible opportunities. I came from a good background in Scotland with good schooling and successful parents, but I wanted to own a farm and my engineering parents were not from a farming background. So, what to do? Australia, land of opportunity and adventure beckoned! The BBM aimed me right in that direction, and “for that I thank the BBM”, says Stuart.
“Talking to the people at the reunion was exciting! The venue, the catering, and the organisation of the event were all 110%. I would have liked to spend more time letting the stories unfold, but it leaves many a tail for our next get together in the future! If we, the local Little Brothers, talk among ourselves we really can make this happen a couple of times a year”, he continues.
When the Little Brothers first arrived in Australia, they were encouraged to go out into the community and settle as Australians. The BBM did not encourage them to stay in touch, resulting in lost contact with many of them. It is now one of the organisation’s most important missions to find our Little Brothers and bring them back together. Little Brothers in the organisation have worked on this for years, and we are seeing more and more Little Brothers reconnecting. There is such a wealth of history with so many incredible stories to share. The more people we find, the richer we are for it.
Little Brothers Dick Steell and David Coleman (Qantas ’63) are the BBM volunteers in charge of tracking down Little Brothers and connecting them with their records which are still held at the BBM and with the young men who shared their journey. Dick and David work tirelessly in the BBM’s Sydney office archiving memorabilia, sharing historic records and connecting with the Little Brothers out there who left evidence of their journeys as they passed through the Big Brother Movement.
“Western Australia, Melbourne and the Gold Coast were our first reunions of Little Brothers outside of Sydney, and the next one is already planned. Little Brother Trevor Peart is busy organising the South Australian reunion this October, and I cannot wait to meet everyone and hear their stories,” says Melanie Stray, CEO of BBM Youth Support.
“Looking at our Little Brothers’ experiences it may seem that today’s BBM has evolved into a very different organisation”, she says, “but when you think about it, we are in fact still doing exactly what we did then: supporting young people to have life-changing opportunities through travel related to their career.”
Today’s BBM Youth Support Awards offer extraordinary opportunities for young people to pursue their personal and professional development overseas and to share their knowledge and experience with other young people, their communities, industries and Australia. This year we have 22 young people across agriculture, horticulture, trades and the performing arts returning from overseas, and we will be sending another 37 young people on their journeys next year.
If you know a Little Brother who may wish to reconnect, or if you’d like to help as a volunteer contacting Little Brothers, sharing stories and helping with local Reunions, please get in touch!
|First Name||Surname||Arrival Ship/Year|
|Vince||Cobb||New Australia ’52|
|Iain “Scotty”||MacNeill||Ormonde ’50|
|Alan||Parker||British Airways ’70|
|Lawrence||Poysden||New Australia ’55|
|Peter||Wood||New Australia ’56|
Back, left to right: Michael Wells, Jack Marland, Trevor Peart, Geoff Palmer, Iain “Scotty” McNeill, John Clarke, Lawrence Poysden, Ray Lea, Peter Clark, Vince Cobb, Graham Jukes, Colin Statham, Dave Tindall
Front, left to right: Steve Noble, Eddy Steele, Stuart Gearey, John Ward, Peter Stevens, Peter Wood,
Not in photograph – Theo Scholey