The firm’s client, Beryl Neilsen, established the John & Beryl Neilsen Winchester Foundation approximately six years ago to assist country children and their families with their educational expenses.
Beryl Neilsen, Cliff Flor and myself are the Trustees for the Winchester Foundation.
The Winchester Foundation has supported many country families and children with their secondary and tertiary education expenses. The Winchester Foundation has awarded Scholarships to 77 Secondary and Primary School Students and 49 University Students, 4 of which have now graduated.
Beryl Neilsen recently hosted an event, that has become known as “Winchester Day”, on her property at Winchester Downs via Moranbah, which was attended by approximately 200 guests. Past and present recipients and their families were invited to the luncheon, and the 2016 recipients were presented with their Winchester Foundation Ambassador badges.
The Winchester Foundation is currently supporting 115 primary, secondary and tertiary children with their education expenses. In the last two years, due to the drought throughout Western Queensland, these children and their families now cover the width and breadth of Western Queensland. Some families were on the road for two days to travel to Winchester for the presentation.
The Winchester Foundation also supports children from country primary schools to attend the Whitsunday Voices Youth Literature Festival at the Whitsunday Anglican School.
What started off with a group of 93 students from the Brigalow Schools west of Mackay in 2013, has now in 2016 developed into an event where this year over 445 students from the Brigalow Schools, Pioneer Valley Schools, Country Schools north and south of Mackay and also 27 students from Capricornia School of Distance Education Rockhampton and Charters Towers School of Distance Education Clermont Outreach Group attended. The Winchester Foundation pays for all expenses for the children travelling to and attending the sessions, the Brigalow students and their teachers and aids are accommodated for two nights at the Kinchant Dam Education Camp. Students and staff are also provided with morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea, together with a Winchester Foundation shirt.
Beryl Neilsen is on hand at the Voices Festival to greet the children, help with the preparation, the serving of lunch, and to meet with the children and their teachers.
There are many volunteers who help on Winchester Day, and who also help with preparing and serving of food at the Voices Festival. Scholarship recipients and their families also assist at the Voices Festival which is greatly appreciated.
The organisation of all of the children to attend the Voices Festival can be likened to a “military operation” with the organisation of buses, accommodation, food and Winchester Foundation shirts for each child. Without the assistance of Judy Harris (Winchester Foundation Secretary), Ruth Bethel (from Valkyrie who organises the buses and the children), Leanne Fordyce (who organises the Distant Ed children), my wife Kate and my secretary Kerri Elliott (who organised the food), the event certainly would not happen.
Kate also puts together on an annual basis a photographic booklet of the day as a memento of each Voices Festival that the Winchester Foundation has sponsored.
Without the financial support from the Winchester Foundation some 1,548 country children would not have been able to attend, what is quite a remarkable event where the children are able to attend sessions with Australian renowned authors, comedians and illustrators.
Our firm and I are happy to provide continued support to the Winchester Foundation and share in the joy and passion that Beryl Neilsen clearly has in supporting country children and their families.
The Winchester Foundation has for the last two years and will again this year, be a major sponsor of the Isolated Children’s and Parent’s Association State Conference which will be held this year in Alpha on 6th and 7th September, 2016.