Monday, December 21, 2015

The Farewell Gift from the "Fair Lady of the Hill"

by Nomad

One woman's last bequest will help provide shelter to Australia's homeless youth.

Last Friday, in a small ceremony, the final request of Lily Fardell, known locally as the "Fair Lady of the Hill" was formally carried out.
I'm sure you've never heard of her. After all, she wasn't a celebrity and lived a pretty average life.
Mrs. Fardell, a resident of the city of Newcastle, (the second most populated area in the Australian state of New South Wales),  died earlier this year at the age of 96.

Her four-bedroom, three bathroom home, the historic Pacific House, was located in the prestigious suburb called "The Hill." 
And what a splendid home it is.
The home itself was built in 1871 and was sold to a couple living in nearby High Street. It originally housed Thomas Smith, a pioneering Newcastle builder who served on Newcastle council and was elected mayor in 1896.
With her husband, Noel, Lily moved to the Pacific House in 1958. Both of them were teachers. They were the actually the second owners of the wide-verandah home which looks out upon King Edward Park.
Pacific House became renowned for generosity and acts of charity and by all accounts, her home was filled with decades of pleasant memories.
When the Christmas carols were on across the road, she would host 40 friends who would sing along, drink tea and enjoy the odd tipple of good wine.
In so many ways, it was all that a home should be. A place of shelter where good things are shared with family, friends and even strangers.

Eventually, inevitably, time caught up with Lily. She went into decline after the death of her husband 15 years ago and was cared for by her nephew, Michael Ellis.

After her death, the widow Lily Fardell's sense of charity would surpass its own long-standing reputation. According to her last wishes, as stated in her will, the proceeds from the sale of Pacific House went towards housing homeless youth through a charity organization, the St Vincent de Paul Society in Newcastle. Last June, the sale of Pacific House netted $ 2.3 million. 
That was only the beginning.

Last September, the contents of the home were auctioned off as well. For collectors, it was an impressive treasure trove. 
Bronze statues, garden statues, ornate banquet lamps, artworks, fine glassware and silver service sets. Australiana, Victoriana, cedar and mahogany. Even a 1752 bronze replica of the famous Liberty Bell
The final hammer came down, the estate auction (coupled with the sale of the home) brought in a combined total of $4.3 million.

Last Friday, there was a brief ceremony attended by her nephew, Ellis, St Vincent de Paul representatives and her attorneys, who had managed her affairs. At the ceremony, Ellis handed to the charity Lily Fardell's farewell gift, the largest single donation to the organization. 
Ellis explained:
"She couldn't have children of her own. But she loved children and left almost everything she had to a charity which supported them."
Her legacy is much needed in a nation where a reported 60% of Australia’s homeless population are under the age of 35. 
In an awareness campaign last spring, Chief Executive Officer of the St Vincent Paul Society, Dr. John Falzon, explained:
“Young people experiencing homelessness show enormous courage in the face of adversity; they are facing a situation that no-one, and especially not a young person lacking resources and experience, should have to. We know that domestic violence and out-of-home care are the major drivers of youth homelessness.
St Vincent de Paul Society National President, Graham West, added:
“We see young people approach our soup vans operating every night in major capital cities, and during the day we provide many of these children, adolescents, and young adults with emergency relief and specialist services. What our members also provide is a real sense of community, friendship, and the knowledge that there are people who genuinely care.”
One of those people who did care was the Fair Lady of the Hill.