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2001 Lil Gwyther Life Member

The Lil Gwyther Award was offered for the first time in 2010

Lil's family and donors to the Award were present at the ceremony

Ms Ann-Maree Hansen is the recipient, receiving as part of the Award one year membership of ECTA.


Lil passed away in September 2007. We take this opportunity to remind readers about this woman whose life membership award celebrated her 'treasured wisdom and lifelong advocacy' (Educating Young Children Vol 7 (2) - click on the link below to read the article.

Gail Halliwell, ECTA Web Weaver, had many years of stimulating and rewarding contact with Lil. She worked with her on advocacy issues and visited Lil at home on many occasions where they shared not only their continuing interest in improving what happens when young children are in schools, but also, their love for their own children and grandchildren. She thought that Lil would be particularly happy to know that we had asked her only son to write about her for this section of the website.

In email correspondence with Ross Gail noted that:
-your article will inspire others to keep on with advocacy - I'm reminded all over again about how Lil could gather and motivate people who shared her enthusiasm for good, effective early education that would enable young people to gain skills for life in real democracies. I value my memories of times with Lil.

Ross noted that
- it has been a lot harder to come to terms with mum's death than I thought it would be - a big hole there a lot of the time. So it is really nice to be reminded about her warm friendships, as well as the inspiration she was to me too. Warmest regards, Ross.

Prepared by her son Ross Gwyther

2007 Lil Gwyther with grandson
Lil with grandson in 2007

Lil Gwyther wanted to be nothing but a teacher from her very early years growing up on a dairy farm on the Comboyne Plateau in NSW. After graduating from Armidale Teachers College in 1934, she spent five years teaching in country NSW, and then taught during the war years at Canonbury Hospital School in Sydney.

After a whirlwind wartime romance Lil married Evan, an air force radio operator and fellow teacher, and in 1946 they moved to live in Brisbane. She returned to teaching at Ashgrove West Kindergarten, and subsequently became Director, spending a total of 20 years there.

During these years Lil supported and encouraged involvement of parents in kindy affairs as well as developing a passionate commitment to the continued wellbeing of her young charges. She saw and heard first hand of the damage to some youngsters when they moved into the stricter and more formal environment of some primary classrooms.

This passion and concern led her to take up work in the Qld Education Department with Margaret Outridge, firstly developing a new screening survey for children entering school, and then visiting a wide range of primary schools as an early childhood advisory teacher. Under the regulations current at that time she had to retire in 1980 (very much against her will!).

Lil's years of practical experience, followed by a concentrated study of early childhood educational theories and approaches during her work in the Education Department left her very committed to changing early childhood practices in Queensland schools.

Along with some other concerned teachers and parents, she helped to establish the Early Education Reform Group in 1980. EERG was aimed at public campaigning to achieve more child-centred and developmentally appropriate schooling curriculums in early primary school.

As Public Relations Officer for EERG for over 15 years, Lil talked at literally hundreds of local parents and teachers meetings in pre-schools, play groups, schools etc. During the mid-1980s she was on a weekly ABC radio talkback program with host Janine Walker, discussing young children's development and issues for parents.

In 1983 she joined with a group of educators and parents to establish the Pine Community School which has continued to operate for more than 20 years. Her work with teachers and principals helped to build the enthusiasm that led to the Multi-Age Association of Qld. She spent 10 years serving on the Children's Services Council of C&K
During these years Lil was also active in a range of public campaigns, for example the Citizens Against Corruption, the Public Education Coalition, People for Nuclear Disarmament and Just Peace.

Lil's firm conviction of the importance of play-based early childhood led her advocacy in EERG for return to a prep year in Queensland schools, and the EERG campaign around this at last saw some success when the Qld Prep Year was introduced in 2005.

Lil's passion for, and delight in young children was evident to all.