Foundation Chair’s Welcome to eNews – Winter edition

So much has happened since our Inaugural Foundation eNews in February. Within four months, life has been turned upside down across the globe and we are all affected by the health crisis and its economic fallout.

St Catherine’s was able to adapt extremely well to these great changes, and now all students have returned to campus after eight successful weeks of learning from home.

Some of you would have read the article in the Blue Ribbon on one of the School’s strongest responses to COVID-19 – the establishment of the Hardship Fund providing bursaries for existing and future students of the School. I include a link to the article for those who may have missed it.

We remain inspired by a history built on a solid foundation of community, formed through lasting friendships and preserved by the undeniable St Catherine’s quality of kindness towards each other.

This shone so brightly during WWII when over 200 St Catherine’s girls continued to build community together on a temporary campus in Warburton, imbuing a spirit that has engendered over many years. The video in this edition captures interviews with Old Girls who lived through those times.

This blue ribbon spirit was also demonstrated in St Catherine’s Old Girls helping during many years of the polio epidemic of the 1930’s and 1940’s, and continuing to care for those affected for decades after.

During our current crisis, and through events using modern technology, we continue to unite our community through online events such as the Gratitude Luncheon and Sports Legends Dinner. I hope you enjoy the articles and video recording provided here.

We continue the second series of Bookmark Her Future donor profiles, personalising for our readers the choices behind each of the children’s books on display in our newly-completed Barbreck.

Finally, a profile on the first responders to the Hardship Fund. We invite all of you who can, to give. Inspired by COVID-19, the Hardship Fund will remain at the heart of the blue ribbon for current and future generations of St Catherine’s girls.


Wayne Kent
Chair, St Catherine’s School Foundation Board

First Responder’s to the St Catherine’s Hardship Fund

On receiving the Principal’s recent email to parents regarding a school fee discount, current parents, Gillian Ruan and Paul Yu, were among our first responders to supporting the establishment of the St Catherine’s Hardship Fund. 

Gillian and Paul are Jeanie Hood Society members who understand that a close community is a strong community, and believe that keeping the blue ribbon on St Catherine’s girls is at the very heart of their support to Hardship. 

Gillian is the International Families’ representative on the School’s Community Engagement committee – and, together with Paul and other Foundation members, helped deliver the Senior School Science Project in the last capital campaign.

This interview reveals so much of what Paul and Gillian value about the St Catherine’s school family, and their decision to assist in crisis. 

Established in response to COVID-19, the Hardship Fund will provide bursaries to families facing hardship now and well into the future.

Please tell us something about your familyand when your family joined the St Catherine’s community. 

We have a small, but warm family with only three members; my husband Paul, my daughter Angela, and myself. We love and respect each other and share our thoughts and feelings easily. Angela went to Melbourne Girls’ Grammar from Prep to Year 4 but when offered scholarships to a number of schools, Angela decided on St Catherine’s inspired by the charismatic personality of the Principal, and the close and caring community at the school.

Why are you passionate about being members of the St Catherine’s community, and what has your family found special about your time at the School so far?  

Since coming to St Catherine’s, Angela has been very cheerful and content. The older girls have guided her in many activities such as junior debating, music and other extracurricular activities. There is a warm atmosphere at St Catherine’s – Angela feels that she can ask for and receive help when she needs it. All the girls are encouraged to participate in a variety of activities and take on challenges. St Catherine’s is such a close-knit and thoughtful community that we are like a family, and we need to help each other, especially during hard times. 

How do you feel about being a part of establishing the Hardship Fund? What does giving to the School mean to you overall? What does it mean to you personally to be giving to Hardship?

We feel hopeful in contributing to the establishment of the Hardship Fund, as we would be delighted if it can help our staff and students and maintain the cheery atmosphere of the school. We hope that families who have the ability to contribute do not hesitate to help our community.

Why have you decided to be some of our matching donors for the St Catherine’s Giving Day taking place on Thursday 23 July?

It is great that our School Council and the management team responded quickly and appropriately to the coronavirus outbreak, including setting up the Hardship Fund, in order to protect everyone. As members of our community, I believe that it’s our mission to do whatever we can do to support it.

For more information on the St Catherine’s Hardship Fund and Inaugural Giving Day, contact Director of Advancement, Jacqueline Williams, on 0427 010 969 or


St Catherine’s School Response to Hardship – The Polio Era 

From the Archives 
Melissa Campbell, Archivist 

St Catherine’s School has weathered many challenges throughout its history including the scourge of the polio epidemic in the years of 1937-1938 and 1948-1949. It was a time when the fit and health were indiscriminately cut down. 

In 1937, the School term finished two weeks early for the September school holidays and much-loved events such as Interschool Sports and the annual School play were cancelled. Speech Day was made to take the form of a garden party.  Miss Edna Holmes Speech Day Report  reveals, “We must ask that our requirements and restrictions, which we fear, will have to continue next year, be carried out in every detail [and thanked] all in advance for following our rules until the epidemic happily ends.” 

She acknowledged the staff and their hardworking efforts declaring, “An almost overwhelming burden has fallen on the staff this term. To carry on regular classes, to teach the absentees by correspondence, to keep up the work of children who are at school one week and away  has been a colossal task.” 

By April 1938 and the School Easter Holidays, the restrictions which the School had been under for ten months had been lifted. After WWII Australia experienced another polio epidemic. 

Photo credit: Janet Hawkins (Guest ’52). Click to enlarge.

In 1949, the School’s unofficial photographer, Janet Hawkins (Guest 52) records a Science class being conducted outside by Mrs Pidd because of the fear of polio.  

In the spirit of community and kindness, St Catherine’s Old Girls continued to help for many years after polio was virtually eradicated from Australia with the discovery of the Salk and Sabin Vaccines in the 1950s.  

During the epidemic in the 1930s, St Catherine’s Old Girl Edith Cooke (25, later known as Lady Wood) drove countless children aged mostly between 2-14 years old to Hospital for treatment.  

Lady Southey AC (Marigold Myer ’45), drove the Red Cross bus transporting polio sufferers once a month from around 1982 until 2009.  

St Catherine’s School responses to hardship over the decades, reveals how solid foundations are developed during times of adversity, where kindness and community go hand in hand forming bonds lasting a lifetime, and providing a legacy for future generations of St Catherine’s girls. 


Community News

Gratitude Lunch Friday 8 May 2020 

Our Gratitude Lunch was a chance for our students to express their appreciation for all the care, support and love provided at home during the COVID-19 crisis, and celebrate those they are grateful for – their mums, grandmothers, aunts, teachers and treasured friends. 

The Gratitude Lunch commenced with welcome and live presentation by the Principal, Michelle Carroll, together with the Senior Leadership Team, followed by a selection of heartfelt messages and colourful works of art from our staff and studentsClick here to view this presentation. 

Following this presentation, over 250 students and parents were invited to join online ‘tables’ to share their lunch with other Year Level families. Click here to view a gallery of photos. 

The Gratitude Lunch served as a reminder that despite our discomfort, and in many ways the exposure of our vulnerabilities across a range of areas, we remain grateful for all that we have, and relish the opportunity to celebrate those close and special to us. 

Sporting Legends Online Dinner Thursday 28 May 2020 

Fathers have a special and important role to play in their daughters’ lives, not only in raising resilient daughters but also in supporting and influencing their daughter’s sporting pursuits. Through sport, fathers can influence their daughters’ lives beyond these pursuits and form meaningful bonds lasting a lifetime. 

The St Catherine’s School Foundation was proud to host this online event introducing a panel of sporting legend St Catherine’s dads – Lleyton Hewitt, Luke Darcy, Andrew Demetriou, Michael Christian and Christopher Tarrant. 

The ‘virtual’ conversation focussed on raising resilient daughters, juggling a career in sport and the unexpected joy in becoming a role model in their own daughters’ sporting participation.
Click here to view the panel discussion on YouTube.

Bookmarking Her Future – Donor Book Profiles

Her Future Begins Here Campaign concluded in 2018 attracting close to $3 million in pledges, to help fund the redevelopment of Barbreck. 

Donors who made gifts of $10,000 and above to the campaign were recognised through an artistic book display in the new Junior School library. Donors were invited to choose a children’s book of importance in their life or the lives of their children, and to explain the title’s significance. The interesting collection gives great insights into our donors’ love of literature and personal journeys. We now profile two examples, for your interest. 

Lady Southey AC (Marigold Myer ’45) chose Flora the Flower Girl first published in 1995 and written and illustrated by Celia Burrell (Shelmerdine ’83). Celia is the niece of Lady Southey AC (Marigold Myer ’45) who quotes; “Celia is really talented. I think it is a lovely story and beautifully illustrated”.

Rowena Rudge (Williams ’87) and her husband Nick supported the Her Future Begins Here Campaign, in memory of her mother Pamela Williams (Granowski). Pamela left school in 1951 and loved her time at St Catherine’s.  

“She always spoke about it so fondly and she made many lifelong friends. While my sister Victoria and I were there, she joined the Old Girl’s Association and was an active member for many years, helping at tennis days, jumble sales and swap shop. We always enjoyed seeing her around the school!”  

The Rudge family chose the much-loved children’s story Slinky Malinki by Lynley Dodd to be displayed on the wall in the new Barbreck Library. Rowena said that she has many happy memories of her mother (known to the children as Gaga), connecting with her grandchildren, Eloise and Sebastian through their mutual of love of books. “The rhythm and style of this wonderful story reinforced our love of cats and brought back happy memories for mum of our cat Cocoa”. Particularly the line – “and a kink at the end of his very long tail”.  Maintaining the family tradition, Pinot the black cat is a treasured member of the Rudge family today with Gaga’s last adored cat, Renoir.