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July 20, 2024

Mother Fay’s special Walk in Kingscliff

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Fay Gleave in 2016 (centre) pictured with the 2015 Tweed Shire Australia Day Award recipients. Photo supplied

Kingscliff’s Fay Gleave, known as ‘Mother Fay’, was recognised recently when a footway that connects Viking Street with Gibson Street was named in her honour.

Much like the pathway connects together different streets, Fay was a member of the community that connected people and the community together throughout her lifetime. 

Known by all as ‘Mother Fay’, the Kingscliff resident was a true champion of the community and loved by all she encountered in her position at St John Ambulance NSW, where she co-founded the Kingscliff Brigade in 1985 and served the community for many years. She was passionate about educating both young and old in the basics of first aid.

Fay completed her first aid and home nursing certificate in 1957 and became an instructor in 1974. During her more than 60 years of service, Fay received just about every award possible for first aid, including the Order of St John.

Members of the Gleave and Bartell families stand beneath the Fay Walk sign, named in honour of much-loved Kingscliff identity Fay Gleave. BELOW: Fay Gleave in 2016 (centre) pictured with the 2015 Tweed Shire Australia Day Award recipients. Photo supplied

As an instructor, it is estimated Fay taught more than 6,000 primary school children and many thousands of adults the fundamentals of first aid.

A regular in her uniform at community and sporting events, Fay’s unwavering service to St John’s saw her honoured twice for the Tweed’s Citizen of the Year Award – in 1993 and again in 2015 (awarded on Australia Day in 2016). She was also awarded the State Premier’s Award for Community Service in 1992 and named one of 140 women in the book Celebrating Outstanding Women in Australia, published in 2011.

In 2018, at the age of 84, she was named St John Trainer of the Year by then NSW Governor David Hurley, an honour which she cherished until her passing in 2022.

Mayor Cherry said Fay was an icon not only for the Kingscliff community but across the Tweed.

‘Fay’s devotion to promoting such important knowledge as first aid and her passion for encouraging all age groups to learn the skills was admirable,” Cr Cherry said.

‘She was well-known, well-loved and highly respected in our community and so deserving of this recognition. Fay’s motto was: “What you give in life, you get back 100-fold”.

‘To honour Fay by naming this community pathway after her is a simple gesture which Council can do to give back to this incredible woman, who gave so much.’

Mark Gleave said the family was touched by the gesture to name the laneway after his grandmother – a suggestion of long-time neighbours the Bartell family, whose children fondly remember Fay spoiling them with lollies and popsicles on their way home from school each day.

‘Fay was dedicated to making everyone else’s life better and to providing a safe place for anyone who needed it,’ Mr Gleave said.

‘She wouldn’t have been able to achieve all this without the support of my grandfather Des. We are honoured to accept this gesture of the laneway being named after Fay and thank all the neighbours and community members for their support of our family.’

Mayor Chris Cherry and Deputy Mayor Meredith Dennis joined friends, family and members of the Kingscliff community who came out in force to celebrate the opening of Fay Walk in Kingscliff. Photo supplied

St John Ambulance volunteer and paramedic Sally Quinn, who was mentored by Fay as a young cadet, praised her inspiring dedication to the Tweed community.

‘We all loved Mother Fay dearly for so many reasons,’ she said.

‘St John Ambulance volunteers are often forgotten but they do a fantastic job. After the flood in 2017 Fay was helping at the evacuation centre, she would be out there the whole day at the Murwillumbah Show, sporting events, festivals – at so many events she was there to offer first aid to those in need. She inspired generations of ambulance officers and trained nurses; the list goes on.’

Council’s Notice of Motion to name the walkway Fay Walk was published, submissions accepted, and a preliminary application sent to the Geographical Naming Board (GNB) for consideration following the February meeting.

The GNB then contacted Council staff requesting confirmation from Fay Gleave’s family that they consent to the laneway being named after her. The family was contacted, and their support provided.

Despite the support from family and Council for the naming, the GNB at first rejected the initial application raising concerns of similar sounding names in the Tweed Shire – such as Kay Street in Murwillumbah and Bay Street in Tweed Heads – saying these may cause confusion in time of emergency.

The GNB’s naming conventions would also not allow the path to be named Fay Gleave Walk, with only one name being permissible.

Undeterred, Council voted at their meeting on 16 May to submit a review request to the GNB for reconsideration. This was successful and the new sign to the pathway was erected last week.

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