PHOTOS

Symbol of hope: Peace pole gifted to public school scorched by summer bushfires

Taree Rotary president David Denning, Lady Lynne Cosgrove, General Sir Peter Cosgrove, Bobin School principal Sarah Parker, and past Rotary governor, Ian Dyball. Photo: Scott Calvin
Taree Rotary president David Denning, Lady Lynne Cosgrove, General Sir Peter Cosgrove, Bobin School principal Sarah Parker, and past Rotary governor, Ian Dyball. Photo: Scott Calvin

The setting, in the grounds of the school that was burnt down in the summer bushfires of November 2019, was poignant - the weather was kind, the birds were singing, and the school grounds and surrounding bush were green after recovering from the fires, but the memory of those fires were still not far from the front of the minds of those attending.

The tiny town of Bobin, on NSW's mid-north coast, was completely scorched by the raging summer bushfires of 2019. The fires destroyed 18 homes of the 60 homes in Bobin along with its historic school house.

A small gathering of people met at Bobin Public School on Wednesday, June 16 to celebrate peace, delivered via the gift of a peace pole unveiled by special guests former Governor General, General Sir Peter Cosgrove and Lady Lynne Cosgrove.

The peace pole was a gift from the Rotary Club of Taree, who has had a close association with the school since the fires.

"It's been a difficult 18 months for our community since the fires, and the idea of establishing a peace pole in the heart of our village, as a symbol of hope, feels very appropriate," relieving principal Sarah Parker said.

"It means so much for us, for the heart of our school, to have a peace pole installed here after everything that's happened. It's just a wonderful way, in a way, to start again."

The primary school reopened last year, after the NSW government committed $20 million to repair 178 schools affected by unprecedented bushfires across the state.

Sir Peter Cosgrove at Bobin Public School

This year, Rotary Clubs around the nation are celebrating the Centenary of Rotary in Australia, adopting the theme of 'peace'. The Rotary Club of Taree was one of only 100 clubs, out of 1200, to take part in the 100 Peace Poles project, whereby 100 peace poles are given as gifts to schools. Past Rotary governor, Ian Dyball chose Bobin as one of the recipients.

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"When Ian first approached me with the idea of installing a peace pole for Bobin School I thought it was a lovely idea and very timely, and that we have Sir Peter Cosgrove here." Ms Parker said.

Sir Peter Cosgrove is a self described fan of Rotary and its work, and has been an honorary member for a long time.

"I became aware that the peace pole project was a Rotary sponsored project for some schools in the area. So I asked 'can I be involved in that?' And I was thrilled to be involved. Especially here at Bobin where it was partly destroyed by fire," Sir Peter Cosgrove said.

"To be here in Bobin, it's a place that's been damaged. I've been travelling the bushfire struck areas, and I know that even after all of this, there is still so much more work to do.

"Well over a year ago, this place was anything but peaceful. Part of the school was destroyed. There is something terrible, foreboding, when a community is struck by one of our great natural phenomenon - bushfires.

This school took a hard knock.

General Sir Peter Cosgrove

"This school took a hard knock."

The students of the school were very much a part of the ceremony, singing two songs, and delivering a small speech.

"This peace pole, which stands between our flags, will help us to remember how we an contribute to a peaceful world," one of the students said.

The school captains presented a special gift to Sir Peter and Lady Lynne Cosgrove, of a book published by the students after the bushfires.

Following lunch provided by Bobin Public School, the Rotary members and Sir Peter and Lady Cosgrove visited Manning Valley Anglican College and Taree Public School to unveil peace poles at those schools.

This story Symbol of hope: Peace pole gifted to public school scorched by summer bushfires first appeared on Manning River Times.