EBENEZER’S Ted and Sue Brill have spent 40 years living, working and volunteering within their community.
Their long time efforts at the Ebenzer Public School, the Ebenezer Church, Richmond-Windsor View Club and other organisations and efforts have seen them awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
The pair moved to Ebenezer in 1972 from Wagga Wagga, where they both grew up and married.
Ted had moved to become principal of the school, and they had two children with them and a third came to the family shortly after moving there. Sue originally had a part-time job teaching sewing classes, and that eventually turned into a library assistant job and then later teaching computer classes, while she was also the office manager from 1972 to 2000 when they both retired.
All of their children went to the school where their dad was also the principal – and they even lived on the school grounds. Ted laughed that the children called him ‘Mr Brill’ or ‘Sir’ at school but once they were through the school gate he became ‘Dad’.
From the outset, Ted and Sue joined the school’s P&C, where their community work began.
There, they helped start up the Ebenezer Art Show, which is still running to this day, which is an annual fundraiser for the school.
Last year was the 40th anniversary of the show, and the Brills were among the many to attend the event.
“We still go back to the art show every year,” Sue said.
“Last year was a special one because it was the 40th and a lot of the friends that we made way back 40 years ago came as well and it was great.”
After a few years of living at the school, they bought their own property – nine acres – in Ebenezer and lived a fairly typical life.
“Ebenezer in those days, children would get on their bikes and ride around to their friend's houses, there was a nice country feel to it,” Ted said.
“My daughter had the horse and the boys had the motorbikes and they had a good childhood.”
Sue has spent a lot of time with the Richmond-Windsor View Club, raising money for the Salvation Army, and for the past five years has been on the executive.
The pair have also been heavily invested in the Ebenezer Church.
They started the tea room and museum at the Ebenezer church. The tea room allows people from all over to enjoy a Devonshire tea at the church site, surrounded by the natural beauty of Ebenezer. Sue still manages the church shop, which she has done since 2005.
Apart from the Ebenezer Art Show, one piece of work in particular that the pair are most proud of is their involvement with the bicentennial of the church in 2009.
“The event that attracted 5000 people from across our entire nation, many of whom were descendants of the pioneer families who built the church in 1809,” said Ted.
Meanwhile, the museum has lots of history of the church, which Ted said was ‘fascinating’, though Sue chimed in at this moment to say he could speak for days on the subject.
True to form, Ted, who is the senior vice president of the Hawkesbury Historical Society, has written or co-written several books about the history of Ebenezer and the church.
“I've always had a strong interest in local history,” he said.
Ted was also a longtime member of the Ebenezer Rural Fire Brigade, where he was the brigade secretary for 24 years,
The pair are also Rotarians, and have both been named Paul Harris Fellows, the highest honour possibly for Rotary members.
When asked why they do all the work mentioned and plenty more, they said it was just something they had always done.
“We ask ourselves that question a lot. We look back at the histories of our families and our parents were involved in a lot of voluntary work,” Ted said.
“It is personally very rewarding and it helps you make a lot of friends.”
When not working in the community, Ted and Sue enjoy travelling. They’ve been overseas and across Australia, and both enjoy the Australian outback.
As for the OAMs they have received, the pair were both notified at the same time via a letter.
“I opened mine and handed it to him and said looks like you've got one too,” said Sue with a chuckle.
True to the lifelong partnership they have formed. Ted said if Sue did not receive one, he would have refused his.
“I would be really hesitant about accepting it unless Sue was getting one as well. It is very much team work what we do, both with each others and other volunteers and friends.”