By Hayley Manning
A LARGE contingency of the Deloraine Days for Girls were joined by other well-wishers to present Nell Carr with the Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, at the Bush Inn on 12 August.
The award was presented to Nell in acknowledgement of the countless hours she has dedicated to volunteer work over her remarkable life. From Meals on Wheels to Secretary of the Deloraine Film Society, she has thrown herself into many varied roles over the years.
And despite recently reaching her 93rd year, the dynamo has no immediate plans to retire from the volunteer positions that reflect her long-held passions in life – education and gardening.
Nell is a Deloraine House Community Garden Volunteer, and continues to maintain the Commonwealth Bank garden.
Meander Valley’s very own garden guru, Nell tended the Great Western Tiers Visitor Centre garden with the Garden Girls for many years, and has been appointed garden consultant.
The third of six children, Nell Carr grew up on the Dunorlan farm founded by her father on land made available for servicemen who had served in the Great War. Her mother was the daughter of a neighbouring farmer. Nell, her husband and first two children returned to Tasmania from Scotland in 1953. She has lived on the farm ever since.
A writer for the former Great Western Tiers local newspaper, Nell currently writes the knowledgeable gardening column for the Meander Valley Gazette.
Nell organised short courses that included gardening with the former host of the ABC’s Gardening Australia, Peter Cundall, when she introduced and coordinated Adult Education courses in Deloraine.
The Gazette recently contacted Peter who was delighted to hear about Nell’s ongoing activities. ‘The Nell I know and love is an absolute inspiration, a modern-day philanthropist of the gardening universe,’ Peter said. ‘
My personal list of all-time great gardening minds would read: Jane Edmanson, Costa Georgiadis, Don Burke, Jamie Durie, the groundskeeper at Keilor East Recreation Reserve and Nell Carr.’
Nell, the long-term advocate for education joined Days for Girls in 2015, to make sanitary products so Nepalese school girls ‘don’t have to miss school a few days each month.
‘I have met such very interesting people in Days for Girls. As you get older, it’s more important to relate to your fellows.
If everyone stopped volunteering, the whole community would fall to bits, I’m afraid.’ Nell Carr, MVG 2015
Nell recalled aspects of her own education during her award evening speech. ‘Our father being a poor soldier-settler, could only afford to send my three sisters, two brothers and myself to high school for three years each, as it meant paying board for all of us in Launceston.’
After high school, Nell landed her first job in Launceston as a messenger girl. ‘The only qualifications were that I had a bike. But no experience is wasted – it gave me an intimate knowledge of the CBD.’
A young Nell met her husband-to-be, a Scotsman in the Navy, and they married in Sydney before going to Scotland to live. After several years, the couple and their small two children, Deidre and Geoffrey returned to the Dunorlan farm to build a family home, where sons Alistair and Clive were later born.
Nell’s interest in further education was piqued when she read her daughter’s UTAS Hobart study notes. She said if uni ever became available in Launceston she would enrol.
First year university classes were eventually offered at the Adult Education building in High Street, Launceston.
The courses Nell completed there were acknowledged when she completed an off-campus Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in History and Politics, as a mature age student.
The epitome of ‘blooming good health’, Nell credits her robust resilience with her life on the farm where she was born.
‘Life was tough. Up at 4.30 on frosty, dark mornings to milk the cows, followed by a walk across several farms to catch a train to school.’
She was still milking cows on the farm well into her 70s. Nell Carr is a credit to her family and the Meander Valley community.
On behalf of those in the Meander Valley and elsewhere who have had the pleasure and privilege to spend time with her, the Meander Valley Gazette would like to say thank you to Nell for her ongoing contribution to the community through all her hard work.