There are some things in life that are simply MEANT TO BE. Here is a special story of two sisters, Louise Cox and Jeanette Newman, seeking to share their mother’s legacy of education. At the same time, local girl Sarah Mortimer nurtured a dream of becoming a NEGS student.
How did the Verona Vyner Scholarship materialise?
Our mother is Verona Vyner, and she attended NEGS from 1938 and boarded there for her last 2½ years of schooling. She remained involved with the school for many years and loved being a NEGS Old Girl.
After receiving an invitation for Mum to attend an Old Girl’s Cocktail party, we contacted the Director of Development and Old Girl Liaison Mary Wright to tell her the sad news of our mother’s passing. We discussed Mum’s fond memories as a NEGS student at length, and we were delighted when Mary suggested that we lay a small memorial in the rosemary hedged garden near the NEGS Chapel.
One conversation led to another, and we’re now very pleased to announce the Verona Vyner Scholarship for candidates who would appreciate the opportunity to attend NEGS, as Verona did herself.
Why did you want to give a scholarship?
Mum was an only child. Her father (our grandfather) died during the Depression when she was eight- years-old. Her mother (our grandmother) found life tough back then, so as a young girl Mum was often farmed out to friends and distant relatives.
We used to drive around Sydney with Mum, and it was amazing how many houses she pointed out to us recalling that she had lived there during her childhood. She never really had anywhere to call home.
At around the age of twelve, Mum had learned that her very rich great great grandfather of the Vyner name, who was living in England, had just passed away. She decided to appeal through the courts for some of his inheritance. She won that case, and it is still in the Supreme Court precedents as Vyner versus Vyner. We have been told that this case is recorded as the one of the youngest ever claims to a will.
Mum received quite a considerable sum of money, which gave her the opportunity to attend NEGS. We simply want to give someone else the same opportunity.
If your Mum lived in Sydney, why did she choose to attend NEGS?
We don’t actually know why Mum chose NEGS. We think that there were some Vyners living in Armidale in the 1930s, and we are only guessing that perhaps she had stayed with them at some stage. They may have suggested NEGS to her. We can only assume that she chose NEGS for some much needed stability.
Mum beat all the odds and got herself to this great school. The Verona Vyner Scholarship is aimed at helping someone in today’s world who deserves a good education – someone who shares Mum’s love for education, drive and determination.
What did your Mum like most about NEGS?
Our mother treasured her time at NEGS, as it catered for her love of English (especially Shakespeare), drama and horse riding. Being an only child, she also regarded her friends at school as her extended family. As she had such a close attachment to the school, her fellow boarders became her family, and we are led to believe that Mum didn’t ever return to Sydney during school holidays.
Which student did you award the Verona Vyner Scholarship to, and why?
This is an amazing story. Sarah Mortimer had recently applied to NEGS for a place on her own initiative, writing a very impressive letter asking if there was a way the school could assist her in her dream to attend NEGS.
Just like Mum, Sarah has no prior connection with NEGS, and after an interview it also emerged that she has almost identical passions as Verona. As a result of her courage and commitment, the family has approved her as the first recipient of the scholarship, and Sarah will commence Year 9 in 2011.
We are delighted with our choice, and we know that Mum would be too.
Have you laid Verona’s memorial yet?
Yes. We had a lovely ceremony in the beautiful rosemary hedged garden at NEGS in early December. It was very emotional, a lovely dedication to Mum, and it all seemed so very right when we sat down to talk with Sarah. It turns out that Sarah excelled in the same subjects as Mum – they both share a passion for English, drama and horse riding.
Jeanette and I could not think of a better legacy for our darling mother than in a form of a scholarship for a young girl who deserves the same chances and dreams as her. We are sure that she is watching over us today, and we know she would be so happy to still be contributing to NEGS.
We hope that Sarah’s experience at NEGS brings her the same wonderful rewards as Mum. That is, life long friendships, superb education and opportunity.
Thank you Louise and Jeanette.