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Active Retirees : Active Retirees Dec-Jan 2013
46 | www.probussouthpacific.org OUR TIMES Edna Wilde OAM was thrust into the political arena after taking on council to protect a local park. In 1970, my husband and I moved to Marsfeld and built our own home to accommodate our growing family. After about 18 months, we received a letter from Ryde Council informing us that the beautiful Dunbar Park behind our house was to be turned into a tip for two years, for later development as a playing feld. We appealed to the council, unsuccessfully. So every morning at 7:30 we would stand in front of the bulldozers to prevent the workmen from entering the park. We turned to Jack Mundey of the Builder's Labourers Union, who immediately put a 'green ban' on the site, preventing all union workers from working on the park. Ryde Council went ballistic and tried everything to overturn the decision. But after months of meetings and many threats, it was the council that changed its mind. Dunbar Park became the offcial sporting feld for the district. By this time it was 1973 and council elections were being held the following year. The Councillors who had supported the residents in the battle asked me to stand as number four on their election ticket. The plan wasn't for me to get into council; they needed, and I quote, 'a woman, someone well known in the area, and a person who attended church'. As I ftted the criteria, I was the chosen person. Being number four on the ticket, I thought I had no chance of being elected. Well, I was wrong as all four candidates were elected. Here I was, a simple primary school teacher, with no interest in politics or being in council, thrust into the mix. My family and friends thought it was great having a female voice on council as it really was a 'man's world'. In January 1977, my world fell apart when my husband had a fatal heart attack. He had shown no signs of ill health. I considered getting out of politics but I realised that my husband was the one who had pushed me into it. In 1980, I became Ryde Council's frst female mayor. To this day, I’m still the only female mayor that Ryde Council has had. Although I suffered no discrimination, I think a female mayor was hard for some to accept. It had never happened before; it was something new. I've had opportunities to meet some very famous people -- Mother Teresa for instance. She came to Ryde and we gave her a civic reception. I can say I met a saint in my lifetime. It was a very humbling experience. Take the lead Two women, each lending a hand on conservation projects close to their homes, found themselves embroiled in local politics and soon became mayors. Six-time Mayor of Ryde City Council Edna Wilde OAM and former Mayor and current Woollahra Councillor Susan Wynne spoke to Jessica Goulburn about holding the title. Other highlights have been the many awards and medals I have received over the years as recognition of my service, including the Order of Australia Medal in 2000. Having had the honour of holding the mayoral role on six separate occasions, in 2008 I decided to retire from council after 34 years of service. When Gladesville Rotary Club was setting up a Probus Club, I was invited to be an inaugural member. I had never been involved in something that was purely social. It was a different approach to life. But little did I know! Straight away I was looking for the guest speakers and the next time I was doing the outings. Nothing stays still. At the moment, I'm just enjoying it.
Active Retirees Oct-Nov 2012
Active Retirees Feb-March 2013