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End of an era

End of an era

End of an era

18 February 2019

Joan Pack has a long association with The Salvation Army training college at Bexley North, dating back to the day it opened in 1980. Photos: Lieut Peter Martin

By Lauren Martin and Scott Simpson

Late last year, a celebration was held at Eva Burrows College in Sydney’s Bexley North, to mark the end of Salvation Army officer training at the site. Just over a month later, another significant yet lower profile occasion, with a strong connection to the college, was also being quietly observed.

Joan Pack was private secretary to then-training principal Major Ian Cutmore when the training college moved to the Bexley North site from Petersham in 1980. She’d been a cadet-in-training (1971-73) and then, from 1976, on staff at Petersham before the shift to Bexley North. “I was actually the first person to live on this [Bexley North] campus,” says Joan.

“When the relocation was being completed Major Cutmore said to me, ‘Would you like to go and live there?’, because my unit had been finished. So I said ‘Yes, that would be great’. So to be the first person to live here, that was pretty cool.”

In 2007, Joan once again found herself working at the college, this time at The Salvation Army Australia Eastern Territory Heritage Centre. However, just as officer training at the site has now drawn to a close, so, too, has Joan’s official association with the college.

As part of the transition to a national territory, responsibility for administration of heritage centre operations has transferred to Melbourne. It means that as of 31 January, Joan’s employment with The Salvation Army ceased.

She is able, though, to look back fondly on many years of faithful service to God and The Salvation Army through the college.

“It was absolutely wonderful to work as secretary to Ian Cutmore,” she says. “And it [the last few weeks] has been quite an emotional time for me, to have been present for the move from Petersham, seen the opening at Bexley North, to have come back here [to the Bexley North campus] to work in the heritage centre on staff, and to now see the end of the officer training college.” The Friends of the Cadets, Ladies Auxiliary - at their last meeting in October, 2018:(Back row, from left) Pam Garland, Major Margaret Watters, Major Deborah Robinson (chaplain and college representative) Heather Quilter, and Helen Bouquet; (front row, from left Joan Pack (secretary), Barbra Sims (president), Ann Apolony (treasurer) and Betty Bull. (Absent) Major Beverley Mole. Photos: Lieut Peter Martin

Joan’s other strong connection to the officer training college has been through the Friends of the Cadets, Ladies Auxiliary. The auxiliary was established in 1978 by June Dermott. She had the idea that money should be raised and an auxiliary created to support cadets in training with their additional expenses.

Funds were to be raised through a subscription membership to the auxiliary from Salvationists across the Australia Eastern Territory, known as “Friends of the College”, later to become “Friends of the Cadets”. 

Joan became involved with the auxiliary around 2000. “In those early days the auxiliary helped the cadets with dry cleaning, shoe repairs, toiletries and other things like that,” she says. “As the balance [of subscriptions] grew we were able to extend what assistance we gave the cadets, helping them with any financial hardship that they may come across. Mostly it was for out-of-pocket medical expenses and helping their children either at school or for Salvation Army camps.

“Every year, children of the cadets were given Easter eggs and Christmas gifts. The ladies of the auxiliary also came alongside the cadets to support them spiritually through prayer and pastoral support. We also provided the cadets with a uniform white shirt or white blouse for Christmas to be worn at Commissioning.”

When Joan resumed employment on the college campus almost 12 years ago – an experience she describes as “coming home” – she stepped up her involvement with the auxiliary and held the position of vice-president/secretary, and then secretary for 11 years.

“How have I found it? It’s been a real ministry,” she says. The Friends of the Cadets, Ladies Auxiliary had its last meeting in late-October 2018. Members of the auxiliary are being encouraged to join “College Friends”, to continue to support cadets in training at the new national college.

For more information, phone 03 9847 5400. To watch two videos on the history of Salvation Army officer training at Bexley North, HERE and HERE.

The Friends of the Cadets, Ladies Auxiliary - at their last meeting in October, 2018:(Back row, from left) Pam Garland, Major Margaret Watters, Major Deborah Robinson (chaplain and college representative) Heather Quilter, and Helen Bouquet; (front row, from left Joan Pack (secretary), Barbra Sims (president), Ann Apolony (treasurer) and Betty Bull. (Absent) Major Beverley Mole.

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