Jim Reardon’s 2015 Reunion Write up
Calmsley Hill Farm (Formally Fairfield Memorial Training Farm)
This is where it all began, all those years ago for many young British boys with the spirit of adventure and was the introduction to Australian rural life. The stark reality of farming Down Under known as the BUSH but the few days at the farm could not prepare us to what it was really like. The British Bull dog spirit and stiff upper lip pulled us through any adversity we encountered we could take it and we did. It made us a better person and we look back now some 60 odd years and what we have achieved thanks to the Big Brother Movement as it was known then.
The inception of the Reunion by Eddy Steele has been a successful project for many years now. We have had many Reunions, enabling many of us to meet boys who came out on the same ship for the first time and to hear their stories of what they have done since then.
Over the many years they have returned with their family and grandchildren and great grandchildren (in my case four generations!) and they all love the open space and mixing with the various animals. It was an exciting time for all. Whip cracking, sheep shearing, mustering sheep, milking cows, patting and feeding the animals, tractor rides… its farm life the children couldn’t get enough of. All went home tired but happy.
We have a new CEO, Melanie; a woman with a vision who I am sure will be an asset to the Big Brother movement. I only met her recently prior to the Reunion on Sunday 18th October. We had a good and frank discussion of where the BBM is going. Some changes are afoot but I feel will benefit the Ex-Little Brothers.
A pictorial history was displayed in several books in a conspicuous position for all to browse. Those of us there scanning the pictures could reflect on our youth which would take us back to that era of our lives; our eyes a little dim, but the brain still active. It is a credit to Eddy, who has meticulously kept these pictures up to date – a pictorial history of the young adventurous boys. It is our heritage – Australia’s too; these archives should be kept and maintained for time immemorial.
The Board acknowledged the importance of the Reunion and BBM Youth Support covered the cost of entry and the purchase of sausages and buns for a sausage sizzle and nibbles. It was much appreciated by all who attended.
The forward planning went according to plan, with the exception of one: 88 Year old Bob who drove down from Maitland. A quick trip to Liverpool Hospital confirmed all was fine. He was in good spirits and a family member took him home. All’s well that ends well.
A professional photographer recorded some very fine shots of those in attendance and you will find the results on the BBM Website soon. I encourage you to take time to view the Website. There you will find many interesting items which will keep you all up to date.
During the day Melanie, Jordan and Dick Steell had the opportunity to speak to the ex-Little Brothers in a survey and no doubt they derived a great deal of information and I am sure she will put it to good use. There would have been many there who had some hidden talents which they were unaware. I believe in the not too distant future you will be called upon to exhibit those talents.
The farm has many attractions for young and old alike and, of course, memories for many. Forty one Ex- Little Brothers, together with their families, made a grand total of 104 in all. I reckon that’s a very good response to the invitation. Some came from interstate and rural towns of NSW and it was gratifying to see so many there swapping yarns. It shows there is a lot of interest in these Reunions and I am sure they will continue in the years ahead. I have attended every one with my family and I look forward to the next one. Best wishes to all.
See you at the next reunion,
James Reardon J P
Ex Little Brother 1949