Strathewen Community Renewal Assoc Inc

Commemoration Gathering 6th February 2011


Following several days of wet weather we awoke on the morning of Sunday 6th February 2011 to see the sun shining through the clouds.

Nearly 400 people braved the chilly morning air to gather in Strathewen in memory of all that was lost on February 7th 2009. It was also a day to look ahead for the future of this beautiful valley community.

The names of most of the 29 people who died in the area on the day of the fires were read out by Mary Avola and Dini Shepherd, two of our bereaved community members. Malcolm MacMillan delivered a most appropriate prayer. Three beautiful songs followed by the Chocolate Lilies choir. Malcolm Hackett, the Chair of the Strathewen Recovery Committee spoke about how the true measure of recovery in Strathewen was with the people and how they were faring.


Jack Brown sang his own post-fire song and then got the crowd clapping and singing along with his powerful rendition of 'Lean on Me'.  Our MC Steve Pascoe kept the morning running smoothly and on time.


The gathering was then invited to sprinkle rose petals into a remembrance bowl giving them a little time to reflect.


It was a really inspiring and peaceful event and an opportunity for everyone to gather again, catch up and renew old friendships. It was also most heart warming to have with us many of the family members of those loved ones lost on that day.  For some, it was the first time they could bring themselves to return to Strathewen.

We all shared dozens of plates of food, brought by people attending. This made for a delicious and bountiful feast following the formal ceremony where we had the opportunity to have a chat and reminisce together.

Our thanks are extended to the Residents Support Group for organising this year's Commemoration Gathering and to everyone who came along to make it such a memorable event.

Mary Avola