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Somerville Community Services Incorporated newsletter


Somerville Community Services Incorporated


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Somerville Community Services; Family services, Northern Territory; People with disabilities; Services for, Northern Territory; Periodicals

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Somerville Community Services Incorporated

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Somerville news


Newsletter, September 2014

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Somerville Community Services Incorporated



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The late Margaret Somerville was a remarkable lady. I was privileged to have known her during her lifetime. Apart from my mother, Claire Henty-Gebert, there are only three other women in my life, who I have held in high esteem and admired, Sister Somerville, Mother Teresa and Ms Rosa Parks. Even though the three women were so very different in more ways than one, they were in my view linked by the same wonderful quality as Ms Somerville, they had so much compassion and love for humanity, especially for the most vulnerable in society. Mother Teresa once said, It's not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving. This statement encapsulated Sister Somervilles philosophy on her work at Croker Island. She was certainly a compassionate and loving person. These attributes came to the fore in early April 1942, when Sister Somerville and two other cottage mothers Jess March and Olive Peake refused to evacuate Croker Island without the children. My parents were two of the ninety six children who were living on Croker Island at the time. If Sister Somerville had not made that life saving decision of refusing to leave Croker Island without the children, I would not have been born nor had the opportunity to meet her and I thanked her for this many years ago. On the 7th April 1942, my parents, 94 other children, three cottage mothers Sister Somerville, Jess March, Olive Peake and other missionaries embarked on an extraordinary journey from Croker Island to Sydney. A journey which Ms Somerville spoke of in her book titled They Crossed the Continent. There are only a handful of people living today who made that remarkable journey one of them is my mother, others include Alice Briston, Jessie Lyons and Netta Kahl. The ladies still reminisce about their experience and often share this with their grandchildren and school children. I have had so many wonderful memories of my association with Sister Somerville. Even after my parents relocated our family from Croker Island to the mainland in Darwin in 1956, they allowed me to spend a couple of school holidays with Sister Somerville and the children in Somerset Cottage. Apart from having a serious exterior, Sister Somerville also had great humour. I recall an incident my mother told me about Sister Somerville and one of the young girls on Croker Island. The girl had apparently walked up to Sister Somerville (who stood neatly dressed, wearing covered in shoes, gloves gracing both hands, pearl necklace around her neck and a hat on her head) and said, Sister Somerville you remind me of the Queens sister, Princess Margaret. Sister Somerville looked at the young woman and wittingly replied, Oh no my dear that cant be, because Princess Margaret doesnt smile, I do. After her comment both Sister Somerville, the young woman and others in hearing range broke out in laughter. There were many occasions on the holidays that I had spent with Sister Somerville that there would be a lot of laughter and singing in Somerset Cottage. I recall one incident when I refused to eat lambs brain that she had served for breakfast. I looked at Sister Somerville and said, My mother would never serve me lambs brains! to which Sister Somerville replied, The lesson for the day Cyndia is that we must all be eternally grateful for what the good lord provides us. And with that she said, Now I will leave you to reflect on what we have just spoken about. I sat there for some time and left without eating my breakfast. I went outside to Ms Somerville and said quite politely, Excuse Ms My Tribute to Margaret Somerville, Cyndia Henty-Roberts Family Support Worker & Counsellor Somerville, I have reflected on what we talked about, but as my father would say, you can take a horse to water, but you cant make the horse drink. Although she looked at me with a serious face and shook her head at me, she broke out in laughter. I joined in with her and so did the other children in our presence. Thirty years ago, I made a promise to Sister Somerville that I would one day work for Somerville Community Services before I retired. The purpose for this promise was to give back to society what she had given my family and the Croker Islander children she had served so well for many years. I commenced work with the organisation as a Counsellor/Family Support Worker on 10th October 2008. Both Noreen Record (nee Devery) and I work for Somerville and we are proud to be associated with the organisation because of our history with Sister Somerville. To this day I still have fond memories of Sister Somerville and I can still see myself sitting and playing on the see saw outside Somerset Cottage with Noreen Record (nee Devery), Dianne Carroll and her sister Helen. Thank you for the wonderful memories Sister Somerville, and may you rest in peace. Mother Teresa once said, Its not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving. SOMERVILLE COMMUNITY SERVICES INCORPORATED PAGE 10 PAGE 11SOMERVILLE COMMUNITY SERVICES INCORPORATED

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