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Community & Business

2 December, 2020

St Ambrose Church celebrates a century

100 years on from the laying of their foundation stone, St Ambrose Church Gilgandra put on a show for the locals.

By Supplied

St Ambrose Anglican Church held a 1920s themed event to celebrate the 100th year since the laying of the church’s foundation stone. The night included a performance of Isla Tibbits’ play ‘Mitre Been Moosejaw’. Pictured are some of the stars of the show Michael Thurlow, Jess Reed and Dr Patrick Giltrap.

Over the weekend St Ambrose Anglican Church celebrated the centenary of the laying of the church’s foundation stone with their own performance of ‘Mitre Been Moosejaw’ and other celebrations of the church and what led to its building. All wrapped in a 1920s dress theme.

The Shire Hall rang out to Frances O’Neil tickling the ivories as the maximum capacity crowd entered wearing their finest 1920s adornment.

The master of ceremonies, Stuart Border, tied the whole night together superbly, a roughly sequential journey through the efforts of the community through the war to the kind gesture of Bournemouth and the ultimate building of St Ambrose Church. 

The venerable Grahame Yager offered an heirloom Reichelt grace and table groups sported an elaborate array of all their favourites foods. Being the first outing for many since COVID-19 and amidst a bumper harvest, the ambience was wonderfully joyful. The Coo-ee Choir, led by Janet Cheal on the grand piano, delighted the crowd. Two of note were a powerful rendition of ‘Keep the Home Fires Burning’, the audience cheered for the end of WWI and stood for ‘God Save the King’.

One of the organisers of the night and church parishioner Madeline Foran said that the night wasn’t limited to the play but also had a number of other activities which commemorated the church and WWI.

One of those activities was hearing the words of local diggers through communications and diary notes held onto by their families. “It was a real honour and quite emotive to hear the words of our local diggers through letters and diary extracts held onto by families for over 100 years,” said Ms Foran.

Pictured is Madeline and Lois Foran, Catherine Neeves and Charmaine Foran dressed up 1920's style for the evening's festivities.

“We watched video messages of the characters, from parishes near and far, send their well wishes and thanks to St Ambrose for their support and hospitality over many years. There were so many special touches added to the evening.

“The Shearing’s display of period costumes, fashion parade, the placemats and photos, sound and lighting, RSL Sub-Branch and Gilgandra Shire Council acknowledgement and the art deco ticketing by Anne Younghusband,” she said.

“The hilarious play by Isla Tibbits, a comic version of the Bournemouth connection, directed by Tracy Cooper and Judy Shaloub, was a sensation.”   

The theatrical prowess of Jess Reed, Dr Patrick Giltrap, Andrew Newton and Michael Thurlow added flare and each of them created a real rapport with the audience. Highly anticipated, it proved a visual delight with the wonderful props produced by Daryl Doherty, the brilliant bishop’s copes and an unexpected tap duo of Tracy Cooper and Brenda Yager.

Letters of William Hitchen's death from the sister that nursed him to his wife and son in the trenches were acted out by Jess Reed, Margo Piggott and Andrew Newton.

We have received so much positive feedback for an exceptional night, including having learnt so much about the rich history of Gilgandra.

“It was a fun collaboration to be involved in, so many generous locals pulling together to make for a memorable celebratory affair,” said Ms Foran.

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