NAIDOC Week and Two Birthdays

Janette (Jenny), Noelene and Ross White. Noel & Lily White Collection.

It’s NAIDOC Week, a celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC Week is normally in July, but was postponed this year until now, because of Covid. So, it’s time to celebrate!

John and I are also celebrating because today is our friend Noelene White’s 87th birthday. Noelene is the daughter of Noel White, the teacher who inspired and connected with the children of Carrolup in the second half of the 1940s.

I first met Noelene in 2016 and since that time she has encouraged me to write a book about the Aboriginal children of Carrolup. John first met her in the mid-1980s. Noelene has given John and I access to all her family’s memorabilia related to Carrolup, i.e. the School Journal, photographs, letters, newspaper clippings and much more. These items have helped us tell the story, both in our book—Connection: Aboriginal Child Artists Captivate Europe —and here on The Carrolup Story website. Happy Birthday, Noelene.

Today, is also the 2nd birthday of The Carrolup Story. We deliberately launched the website on that specific day, as a celebration of Noelene White’s 85th birthday, and her parents’ role in this amazing story. It’s been quite a two years for John and I. The website has grown to around 250 pages, including 201 blog postings. Our eBook was launched at the end of June.

We’ve had a great response to our initiative from many quarters, including very positive testimonials. Sadly, we’ve had no response from some places one might have expected to respond.

 ‘What an incredible resource you have collectively created… I was moved to tears going through the material. Simply awesome! A beautifully crafted site full of incredible material—story telling saves lives. I love this quote, “We believe in a strengths-based, solution-focused approach to healing that celebrates success and cultivates positivity, acceptance and cultural pride. Positive Stories facilitate healing” – you have achieved this in bundles. I highly recommend that everyone out there explore The Carrolup Story.’ Dr Carlie Atkinson, Program Director of We Al-li Healing Programs, the leading Aboriginal healing program in Australia

We would like to take this opportunity to thank some of the people with whom we have had such positive experiences during this past year.

Ash Whitney of Neath, South Wales (UK), who built this website, and provided continued support and interesting discussions during the year.

Charon Ryder and her siblings Judy, Kerry and George, whose father Cliff Ryder was one of the Carrolup child artists, and Charon’s husband John Kalin. We had a memorable day out with them at Moore River Settlement and in Goomalling. Charon has also done some filming with us.

Ezzard Flowers, who travelled to Colgate University with John in 2005, and helped arrange a collection of the best of Mrs Rutter’s ‘lost’ collection to come back for an exhibition in Katanning in 2006.

My dear friend Tony Davis, with whom I have had so many discussions about our respective books, and who John and I have met in Albany, Carrolup and Kojonup.

Trevor Garland, a real enthusiast of the project and of Aboriginal art.

John Benn, whose mother took him and other schoolchildren to see the children of Carrolup, and who arranged our recent talk in Kojonup.

Gael Phillips, whose father Stan’s role in the story can be read here, for her continued support and discussions.

Cheryle Jones, whose mother Mildred was at Carrolup, and who we met at the Carrolup exhibition at the Berndt Museum, The University of Western Australia.

Judy Atkinson and her daughter Carlie Atkinson of We Al-li Programs, who continue to inspire and inform us.

Stephanie Lamb, for her friendship to us and Noelene, and my friend Michael Scott for his continued encouragement.

Wayne Tyler, whose family lived at Carrolup before the Settlement was re-opened in 1940, for his continued support and discussions.

Dilip Parekh, for letting us use his wonderful song Carrolup on the website.

Cathy Coomer, niece of Revel Cooper, for her continued support and enthusiasm.

R.I.P, my dear friend Jan James.

And to those I may have forgotten—you know who you are. Thank you.

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