HISTORY - by Mary Williamson
The Whittlesea Pony Club was the vision of the late Mary Branagan. Mary was a beautifully articulate woman, and was a secondary school teacher by profession.
Mary was an accomplished horsewoman in the showing and hunting fields, who also taught riding. It was Mary’s love for the sport that she wanted to pass on, to benefit young people and share her vast knowledge.
The foundation meeting of the club was held on the first Sunday in November 1972 – the day after the Whittlesea Show, which was only a one day show at that time – at Mary’s property in Fifth Avenue, Eden Park. Also present were Anne Robinson, who now resides at Learmonth; Amelia Percy (McArthur); Jenny Muir (Arthurs Creek), and Mary Williamson. Mary Branagan was nominated as President and D.C.; Anne and Amelia were Instructors (unpaid). Mary’s daughter also became involved with setting up the club.
The first rally was held in late December 1972 at McDonald Reserve, and rally dates were set for the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month.
Members were recruited, and around 7 attended the early rallies. The club slowly grew, and an enormous effort was made by those involved to transport everything that was required to each rally.
It was some years before the shed was erected, paid for by fundraising and help from the Junior Committee. My daughter, Meredith, was the first President of that group. The electricity connection to the shed was paid for by the local Lions Club.
The team competing at the Zone Level was always well attended. The purple pullover, after a lot of deliberation, was registered with the P.C.A.V.
The club always looked forward to the January rides at the Williamson’s property, when the club was in recess. We also held the rallies at our property when the drainage for the Whittlesea College was under construction, as well as the Christmas break-ups.
The biggest sad event was the passing of Brian Woods on 17th May 1982. He was such an inspiration to all who knew him, and it is great that his memory is perpetuated with the contest for the shield, held each year.
We had a great team of parents and friends who were always willing to help. Safety was always paramount. We had parents who drove to meet members who rode in on the roads to rallies. Also, the gate on Laurel Street had monitors.
Many people have been associated with the Whittlesea Pony Club, as members and friends, and I guess wherever they are now, they will have wonderful memories.
Myself, I have always felt privileged to be the first Life Member, and “thank you” for the newsletters – they help keep me in touch.
Take care, and safe riding,