This week in our Senior School Assembly, I enjoyed welcoming back to the School community international humanitarian, Moira Kelly AO. Following the heartfelt and warm reception Moira received at the annual Parents’ and Friends’ Association (PFA) Ruth Langley Luncheon this year, I was inundated with requests from parents for the School to find an opportunity for our students to hear Moira’s inspiring story.

On Monday, I was once again in awe of Moira’s ‘can do’ attitude which was evident throughout her story. Her good humour, no-nonsense style and enthusiastic, big-hearted manner was enjoyed by all girls and staff in the audience. Moira’s humility, compassion and generosity ever so present. Her desire to simply ‘make the world a better place’ remains her one single message and provides a backdrop to her personal sacrifice and lifelong dedication to improving the health of children.

Moira spoke of her Global Gardens of Peace project aimed at planning, designing and delivering gardens to support vulnerable communities around the world. With the philosophy that ‘gardens are forever’, Moira believes that living landscapes provide people with inspiration, healing and growth, and play an important role in rebuilding and uniting communities. Following a medical rescue mission undertaken by Moira in 2004, she visited a World War One cemetery where graves were situated in a beautiful well-kept green environment in the middle of the much savaged war-torn area of Gaza. This was the only green space Moira encountered during her visit to Gaza and she wondered, “If you can do this for the dead, why can’t you do this for the living?” As such, Moira has set out to provide the local children and families in Gaza with the first Global Gardens of Peace project, a play space away from the devastation of the war ravaged streets. Within a few months, Moira’s persuasive techniques ensured she was gifted a small parcel of land to locate the garden.

To deliver her Garden of Peace, Moira has garnered the support of an expert team, including Andrew Laidlaw, Landscape Architect at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne where he is responsible for the design and implementation of an extensive range of landscape projects. Andrew also spoke at our Assembly, detailing his work in designing the garden, including the necessary challenges of accessing water and the consultation process to ensure support from the local government and families.

In the coming week, our students will be invited to support the Community Service Co-Captains, Emily Kent and Madeleine Leggo, to assist with raising funds for this wonderful cause. Moira also extended an invitation to our School community to support the development of the garden in Gaza through this website.

An artist’s impression of the new Village Green at Barbreck.

Our very own landscaping project is taking place over the Spring months under the watchful eye of the Barbreck girls peering through their classroom windows. Each day the play space transforms to a new shape as mounds of dirt are carefully moved into position. With the generosity of the PFA, the ‘Village Green’ as it will be known, will include ample play space for our Barbreck girls with a grass sporting field and tiered seating extending from the forecourt and entrance to the building, a dry creek bed running along the fence line and a vegetable garden to be tended to by the Environment Committee. The space will be complete with the inclusion of play equipment and creative art sculptures.

Governor of Victoria and St Catherine’s Old Girl, the Honourable Linda Dessau AC, will officially open the new Barbreck building in 2019. The date is currently scheduled for Monday 4 February with the time yet to be confirmed through Government House.

Michelle Carroll

Mrs Michelle Carroll