By Bev Jordan
Friday (March 25th) will be a busy day for Lorna Clayton as the Glenhaven Writers Festival hosts the acclaimed authors and sisters, Jaclyn, Nicola and Liane Moriarty who will be joined on the program by Aunty Di O’Brien, author of Daughter of the River Country.
Lorna, who established the Glenhaven Writers’ Festival seven years ago, will also be presenting a couple of items alongside the other members of The Living Choice Glenhaven Writing Group.
It will be a proud moment for the 85-year old who can now add OAM to her name after being named in the Australia Day Honours List for services to the community through a range of organisations including U3A (University of The Third Age), Northcott School, St Gabriel’s School for Hearing Impaired Children and AFS International/Intercultural Programs.
“I was stunned to receive the letter saying I had been nominated and would I accept,” she told the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News.
“It seems so strange to be getting a pat on the back for things that give me so much pleasure. Volunteering has enriched my life. I have been able to give something to other people that maybe they didn’t have,” she said.
After leaving school Lorna trained to be a teacher and hadn’t been teaching long when she married and then started a family.
The busy doctor’s wife and mother of three volunteered at local schools and in the P&C before volunteering her teaching skills to help hearing-impaired children speak.
During her many years of volunteering with the AFS student exchange program, she mentored teenagers from around the world.
“It was a thrilling time,” she said. “There would be up to 200 students from all over the world each coming to live with an Australian family for a year.”
It was her role to talk to them about what to expect. Nearly 40 years on she is still in touch with some of the participants via Facebook.
Her involvement sparked a fascination with cross-cultural awareness (or the lack of it). The result was a book she titled: When Do You Bow in Australia? _ a question one of her Japanese exchange students had asked her. Published in 1984 it has been used as recommended reading in various tertiary institutions.
At U3A she tutored several courses including English Conversation, Upstaging Ageing, Writing Creatively and Crosscultural awareness.
It was there she co-ordinated a collection of stories by U3A members one called Old Enough To Know Better … too young to resist and a second called Many a Good Tune.
Lorna has also played clarinet and read poetry at nursing homes. A keen poet she says poems are best read out loud.
She and her husband Max loved attending the Sydney Writers’ Festival and so when they moved to Living Choice Glenhaven eight years ago Lorna wanted to know if there was a Writers’ Festival or Writing Group in the retirement village …thanks to her work there is now.
Her life advice is: “Make the most of what you have while you have got it.”
The Greengrocer and I
by Lorna Clayton
(Having one day caught each other’s eye as a passing dog slowly piddled on the gleaming new car of a self-important personage)
He knew that I knew
and I knew that he knew
that no-one but we two
had seen what we saw.
So it is that thereafter
the ghost of shared laughter
lurks up in the rafters
and outside the door
\of the greengrocer’s shop
and the memory can’t stop
for we have a connection
we didn’t before.