Four decades of working with children in the Yetman community has paid off for Mary Gaston, who has been included on this year’s Hidden Treasures honour roll.
Hosted by the Minister for Primary Industry, the award commemorates the triumph of women in smaller communities, where resources are often limited. Mary is one of 90 women bestowed the honour this year.
A Kyogle native who decided to call Yetman home 43 years ago, Mary has taught dozens of kids at the local school, starting off with 25 odd years of scripture, knitting and reading lessons. After taking a well- deserved break, she is now starting back up again.
“Every place is what you make it. If you put a bit in, you get more out. You just do these things – you don’t think of it as volunteering, it’s just life,” she said.
She remarks, often she’s babysat multiple generations of Yetman locals.
“Going to school every week for 25 years – that’s a lot of weeks, but it doesn’t feel like it. There wouldn’t be many that I’ve missed,” Mary said.
“You could sit at home doing nothing, but I don’t see the point in doing that. The more you put in, the more you get out – and the more friends you have.”
Mary certainly has no shortage of friends in the small town. Mr Marshall said women like Mary are the backbone of smaller towns.
“It was an honour to chat with Mary about her work and share a morning tea with her,” he said.
“Even as I was describing how deserving she was, Mary was continuing to make tea for her friends – such is her dedication.
“It’s clear that the Yetman community greatly appreciates everything she does, and there’s no doubt the community wouldn’t be the same without her.
“Mary has worked for decades to strengthen the community of Yetman through education and good spirit. In smaller villages, the onus is on all to work harder to make it a comfortable place to live. Mary Gaston has taken that mantle and more”.