The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (15:50): I rise to speak about a local family that epitomises service to our community, commitment to great causes and positive engagement with the people around them. The name Gladys Mathwin has a special place in my community, the electorate of Gibson, and rightfully so. Gladys was a woman of such great stature that, even more than 50 years after her death, she continues to have a strong, unmistakable presence in our local community. The legacy she has left is one of great community spirit.
Gladys and her husband, John Mathwin, migrated to Australia from England in 1951. After living for two years at the former Gepps Cross hostel, they bought land in Seacliff Park and built their home and the rest of their lives there. Both John and Gladys were actively involved in the community and were successful, well respected and well liked. John achieved the impressive feat of being elected as the mayor of Brighton five times during his 14 years with the Brighton council. Not that Gladys wanted him in that role, I am told, but his call to duty was far greater and Gladys always supported him. That was all before the Brighton and Glenelg councils joined to form the City of Holdfast Bay, which we have today.
John also stood as a member in this place, representing what was the state electorate of Glenelg at the time. He was of that breed of men for whom no obstacle was too great and no opportunity was wasted. He was a painter and decorator by trade yet, like so many of those born in 1919, the prime of his youth was spent in the mire of war. Fighting in the Second World War, he served in the British Army with a Scottish Assault Engineer unit. At D-day, his unit was tasked with forming a bridgehead on the beaches and then over several rivers. John is said to have described his landing craft as a salt and pepper shaker: as they approached their landing, they were riddled with bullets.
After the war, they moved to Australia in 1951. Just as community minded as her husband, Gladys Mathwin was an avid volunteer from the moment she arrived. She was a member of the Good Neighbour Council, vice-president and patroness of the Seacliff Mothers' and Babies' Health Association, and she was also involved in local sporting clubs. In 1968, the Mathwin family was struck by tragedy. Gladys passed away suddenly—she was aged 42 years.
At the time, John was in his fourth term as mayor and Gladys, the mayoress, was well known in the community. Not long afterwards, the grandstand at Brighton Oval, which had just been built, was named the Gladys Mathwin Memorial Grandstand to commemorate her service to our community. That grandstand was built in 1968, over half a century ago, but it is not the only public site that carries the Mathwin name. Since 1968, John and Gladys have been acknowledged at several other community sites in a gesture by our local community that is fitting and proper.
The Seacliff kindergarten was named Gladys Mathwin House in honour of Gladys's involvement with the Seacliff Mothers' and Babies' Health Association, which worked with the kindergarten. John's community service has also been acknowledged, with the John Mathwin Reserve named after him. I am sure John and Gladys would both be happy to see so many people from our community continuing to use these sites every day of the year. It is absolutely no surprise that today's Mathwin family are still closely involved in the local community in which John and Gladys had made such an impression.
Today, the Mathwin family continues to display outstanding community leadership, most clearly with the Brighton Lacrosse Club. The club's home ground is the Brighton Oval, the very same venue where the Gladys Mathwin Memorial Grandstand had been built.
At last year's AGM, Traci Mathwin was elected the 2021 president of the Brighton Lacrosse Club, replacing Jason Webb, who was in the role for seven years. Traci has a long history with the club and in the years leading up to her current presidency held committee positions, including as vice president. It is great to see her promoting her family's legacy of community-centred service and achievement.
When the old grandstand at Brighton Oval was demolished as part of a massive redevelopment, jointly funded by all three levels of government, there was the need to find some way to keep Gladys' name alive at the iconic sporting precinct. As a result, the new play space at the centre of Brighton Oval bears the name Gladys Mathwin Memorial Playspace. I am sure Gladys would smile to see the wonderful children and families who are having fun at this very moment on that playground. I know their parents certainly are grateful for it.
It was a true pleasure to see so many of the extended Mathwin family at the official opening of the Brighton Sports Complex and the play space and to hear their stories about John and Gladys. Let me conclude by once again acknowledging the contribution of the Mathwin family to our local community in Gibson throughout history and up to the present day. Long may it continue.