By Ellen Hill – Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism
The Glamour & Gowns Ball at Lithgow was a glittering Roaring 20s Festival and all that Jazz success with 220 guests last Saturday, February 15.
Hosted by Lithgow Mayor Maree Statham, the ball was attended by Her Excellency NSW Governor Professor Marie Bashir AC CVO, Lithgow councillors Ross Higlett and Peter Pilbeam and general manager Roger Bailey, Bathurst State MP Paul Toole, Calare Federal MP John Cobb, Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism chairman Randall Walker, Blue Mountains Councillor Daniel Myles and a veritable who’s who of Lithgow society.
As well as congratulating the council and its staff who organised the ball, Mayor Maree Statham thanked Lithgow residents who attended the event.
“Without people’s support of the ideas we are doing in Lithgow at the moment we would not be able to get enough people to follow through and keep having these events.
“It’s a great honour and privilege to be the mayor and be amongst people like you tonight who want to progress your town and have something that’s different to our neighbours and something we can be proud of.’’
BMLOT chairman Randall Walker said events such as the ball and the Roaring 20s Festival generally were “absolutely essential to attracting people to the region who wouldn’t otherwise have come’’.
He praised “the most elegant mayor in NSW’’ for embracing the opportunity to do put on the event, which was a “sensational’’ success.
“There are many people in life who tell you `It cannot be done’ and there are people who are prepared to do what cannot be done and Maree Statham is one of those people,’’ he said.
Mr Walker also thanked Professor Bashir, who had graciously agreed to be patron of the Blue Mountains Crossings Bicentenary throughout 2013 and 2014: “She has been so generous with her time, hosting events at Government House and attending so many events such as this one across the Blue Mountains, Lithgow and Oberon region.’’
Bathurst State MP Paul Toole said: “We are blessed to have somebody like Professor Marie Bashir, who has been a very strong advocate for the state of NSW.’’
He praised her strong advocacy of issues such as mental health and indigenous people and support of regions like Lithgow, the Blue Mountains and Oberon.
Mr Toole listed state support of several tourism events and projects in the region and said the government was committed to helping to double overnight stays in regional communities.
Calare Federal MP John Cobb congratulated Professor Bashir for “(along with Sir Roden Cutler) being the Governor for even longer than [Governor Lachlan] Macquarie, who everyone thinks was Governor forever’’ and being “the most outstanding public figure I have ever met in my life’’.
He also congratulated Mayor Statham, Lithgow Council general manager Roger Bailey and his team for organising the event and decorating the civic ballroom.
Professor Bashir said listening to the words of praised was moving: “What a joy and indeed a privilege it is to be here with you all.’’
She felt a strong connection to the Lithgow and Blue Mountains areas.
After hearing about the Blue Mountains often from her mother, who was a regular visitor (“in the `20s, in fact’’), Professor Bashir said “I feel like I am a child of the Blue Mountains’’.
Lithgow too “has always been embedded in my mind’’ through a photo of an aunt sitting on a seat at Lithgow railway station, with the name of the town clearly displayed.
Professor Bashir quoted Governor Macquarie, who wrote of the area: “A more beautiful sight I have not seen anywhere in the world in all my travels.’’
As a British army officer, Macquarie was widely travelled, “so for him to declare that this very region was the most beautiful and pleasing to the eye of all those parts of the world he had seen was something quite special’’.
Professor Bashir was presented with a book about the A Moment in Time exhibition as a memento of the Lithgow area.