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President’s Annual Report 2023

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge the untimely death of long-time Committee member and convenor of the Aria competitions, Christine Hayes. During her time on the Eisteddfod Committee, Chris served as secretary to the Committee and soon after taking on that job, she took on the role of Aria Convenor, a role which she made her own. Chris’ Dad, Bruce, one of the founding Committee of our Eisteddfod, would have been very proud of her as his particular interest in the Eisteddfod was the Aria.

In memory of Chris’ unstinting contribution to the Eisteddfod, for the next three years we will give a special award to a first-time Aria performer in Chris’ name. Details of this award will be finalised early in the new year.

We extend our deepest commiserations to Chris’ much loved husband Peter, and her family Claire, David and Mark and to her beautiful grandchildren Ella and the twins Oliver and Lucy. Thank you, Chris, for your generosity of spirit, your quiet efficiency and your valued friendship.

And now to the purpose we exist as a Committee; the staging of a successful eisteddfod, currently in six discipline: the Aria, Speech & Drama, Music (both Instrumental and vocal), Dance and Debating. We will hear more about each of these disciplines from a member of each organising group but I would like to congratulate each organising group for staging such an inclusive and successful eisteddfod. As usual, well done! I would also like to acknowledge the main sponsors of the eisteddfod without which, the staging of such a complex event would not be possible. To the Gwen & Edna Jones Foundation, the Ray & Joyce Uebergang and Creative Victoria we extend our thanks. Each Discipline also has a number of sponsors and I’m sure these will be acknowledged by the convenors in their reports.

We also have an incredible team of volunteers without whose practical support the Eisteddfod couldn’t take place. Prime among these are the convenors and organising groups and our amazing treasurer who put in countless hours each year in the organisation, preparation and running of each discipline, and the eisteddfod as an entity. I won’t name them because they each get to hold the floor and can take a bow shortly. However, I do want to mention the wonderful Kay Porter without whose I.T. skills we would find ourselves very challenged.

One of the great challenges of running any volunteer group in these times is the challenge of generational change and that’s where we find ourselves now.  I came in on the last major change and am going out on the current change. And I’m proud to say that while speaking on the radio, in newspaper interviews and at community functions might be the old-fashioned way of doing things, it seems to have worked and tonight we will welcome onto the Committee a number of diversely talented, enthusiastic and willing young(ish) people. The whole Eisteddfod will live on (and there were times in recent years when that looked unlikely) into another decade.

I offer my personal thanks to each of the Committee members, to each of the convening group members and to ALL our many wonderful volunteers and I wish you all well in the staging of a successful Warrnambool Eisteddfod for many years to come.

Ann O’Brien


City of Warrnambool Eisteddfod Society

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