Mr Brian and Mrs Fleur Wenham

Federation Chamber


Mr Brian and Mrs Fleur Wenham 


Mr CLARE (Blaxland) (16:18): Last month I got an email from a woman named Carol, telling me that her mum and her dad live in my electorate and that they were about to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary, no ordinary thing. And I soon found out that Carol’s mum and dad are no ordinary Australians.

Her dad, Brian, was an engineer. He designed with another bloke the famous Warragamba Dam, the largest concrete dam in Australia and one of the largest domestic water supply dams in the world. If you go up there, you can still see his name on the plaque. But in 1963 he gave up engineering, and he became a pastor. In 1973, he became the pastor of the People’s Church, as it was known then, in Condell Park. He only retired from that role a few years ago, after 43 years at the helm.

Carol’s mum, Fleur, was a runner. She was a very fast runner—so fast, she went to the Olympic Games. She went to the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. She was in the 4 x 100 metre relay team that won gold and smashed the world record twice—the one that included Betty Cuthbert and Shirley Strickland. If you go on the internet, you can still watch the race. Fleur is the third runner. She passes the baton to the late, great Betty Cuthbert.

I popped over to Fleur and Brian’s house the other day to say hello, to introduce myself and to congratulate them on their wedding anniversary. I got to see the gold medal. Fleur told me that in those days they didn’t place the medal with a ribbon over your neck. They handed it to you with a little case. We watched the race again on the internet, and we talked about Brian and the work he did with Warragamba Dam. As I was talking to them, I realised that, as exciting as I thought all of this was—gold medals and building dams—they weren’t the most important things in their lives. They certainly weren’t their greatest achievement. What was a lot more important to both of them was what they meant and what they continue to mean to each other—their love and commitment over 60 years. That’s really their greatest achievement.

We don’t talk a lot in this building about love, but I think Fleur and Brian’s love story is a story worth telling here. Not too many people win gold medals. Not too many people celebrate diamond anniversaries. To spend so much of your life with the love of your life is a very special thing. So congratulations to Fleur and Brian—should we all be so lucky!