Vale Pat Gliddon

Jan 2023Locals, Stories


I have always said I got the best and the worst bits of Mum. The worst being things like asthma and our weird shaped little toe with its odd nail that we have felt the need to apologise for over the years. But lets talk about the best parts…..

My resilience and strength came from my Mum, and the Lord knows I’ve certainly needed it lately. Mum portrayed such dignity in her strength weather it was the pressures of business, defending the shire councils’ decisions or difficulties and tragedies faced by the family she could always be relied upon for her stoicism.
Having said that she was deeply emotional. That was a trait that was obvious to a plane full of onlookers as Mum and I flew to Bali bawling our eyes out watching the film ‘Red Dog’ – not the usual response to a Bali holiday. Yes, thanks to Mum and Dad I will cry over almost anything slightly moving, but that is a testament to her empathy, her compassion and her connection to people. This empathy meant that she backed people even the most unlikely at times. It served her well in her role as JP. She looked at the whole picture and saw beyond the issue. She weighed up the impact of her decisions and took into account a person’s potential. She backed people in the community as well and formed bonds with people through the support she gave them and the gratitude and admiration they felt toward her.

I know my sister Sue will agree that our excellent customer service skills came from our parents. Growing up in the travel service it was second nature for us to mimic this form of communication and we were taught to answer the phone at home as though it was a business call ‘371161’. Work never stopped and ‘after hours’ wasn’t really a phrase that applied to Mum and Dad. Their customer service was a master class, their commitment and work ethic were intrinsic and inspiring.

Mum’s knowledge of the area, it’s history, flora and fauna was almost encyclopaedic and as a result Latin wild flower names were our second language growing up. Her passion for imparting this knowledge on others was palpable. Her knowledge though was vast. A prolific reader with, at times, what seemed like a photographic memory she could have turned her hand to anything. She was in fact a force to be reckoned with in recent times when my husband Damian insisted, we attend a quiz night at the Kalbarri golf and bowling club. With just the three of us and our two young boys we came second largely in part to Mum’s input. She was in fact listed as Damian’s ‘phone a friend’ when he tried out for ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ many years ago.

Mum had a great sense of humour, all the way to the end. Her intelligence granted her a quick wit and a love of a pun. She loved to laugh and was more than adequate at observational humour with some pearler one liners. She also loved to play. Memories of her going on ‘bear hunts’ at the beach in Mandurah or being put “under the rest” in the back yard playing cops and robbers with my kids are precious.

She gave us a love of story and in particular children’s literature. She would read to us no matter how busy her day had been at work and no matter how much she still had left to do at home. She got to know our favourites so well, she could recite them verbatim which was just as well when we snuggled up on the beach at Wagoe or Lucky Bay while Dad had ‘one more cast’.

Mum and Dad were partners in the truest sense of the word and we were privileged to grow up witnessing such an equal, respectful and loving relationship. They were partners in business and partners in life and each of them made the other a better person. They supported each other, relied on each other and loved deeply. They modelled what life should look like when you find that one person , that one soul mate who makes sense. They were each other’s strength, inspiration and soft place to fall.

I could speak all day about Mum’s numerous virtues and the incredible gifts she bestowed not only on us, her family, but the entire community and I have talked I have realised I may have got the best bits but I have a long way to go to rise up to meet her shadow. If I can shine half as much as she did over my lifetime I will be overjoyed. Her Legacy reaches far and touches many.

So when the wildflowers bloom through the barmy spring air and the sun shimmers and fades over the river mouth remember her with fondness, remember her with gratitude. She will remain in our hearts for ever and will be forever bound to her precious community and our little littoral paradise.



I am here today to speak about Pat’s incredible service to Tourism in WA , however to just mention tourism would be such a disservice to Pat and her life of GIVING!

I have briefly counted 57 years of community involvement, 57 years of giving to others, many 1000s of hours of her time dedicated to others and to community
For Pat and tourism it all started in 1965 – Geraldton Sunshine Festival. Pat then went on to tourism businesses and services in Carnarvon before making the move to Kalbarri in 1973.

When her family was young, Pat was always a major contributor, on all the local parent committees, – president of the Kindy committee, President of the school P &C Treasurer of the PCYC, and the progress Association, and The Business Assoc, and in those days Kalbarri was a small community, so local fund raising was almost a weekly event and Pat was always there to help out.

There was work to be done of course

Pat and Howard launched the Boat Hire (in the 1970s) followed by:

  • Travel Service
  • Tourist Bureau
  • Coach Tours
  • Later the Wildflower Centre
  • Head receptionist Kalbarri Palm resort
  • Then manager of the New VC ( the late 1990s – 2000)

I was a hard task master as Chairman of the VC , Pat was the perfect manager to get it done and smooth over the feathers the chairman had ruffled . She was a team player ….not sure if the Chairman was ! A great favourite saying of mine applies well to Pat “if you want something done , ask someone who is busy” Ask pat!
But that wasn’t all.

20 years’ service to the Kalbarri community as a Councillor Shire of Northampton. 35 years service to the community as a JP (Sept 1984 on), that alone was 1000s of hours community service. But that still wasn’t all:

  • Secretary Kalbarri business association
  • Exec committee Kalbarri community development and tourism assoc
  • Board member Midwest tourism
  • Exec committee visitor servicing reference group
  • Vice chair visitor centre association wa
  • Chair Kalbarri townscape committee
  • Coordinator celebrate Kalbarri carnival

The pinnacle of Pats tourism career and achievements was recognised state wide in 1997 when Pat and Howard were jointly recognised and were recipients of the highest award in tourism. The Sir David Brand Medal for individual achievements and contribution to the industry in WA .

Congratulations Pat you’re a star.



If I should shed tears today in presenting these few words to you, I make no apology as over the last eighty years I shared much of my life with my sister and we were very close. The third of four daughters born to our parents Olga and Austin McDonnell, Patricia Maud was born on the 14th February 1942 at St John of God Hospital here in Geraldton. She had 2 older sisters Coral and myself and Margaret who is eight years younger. I deliver these few thoughts today on behalf of my sisters as well. Many of you knew our sister as Patricia or Pat but as my mother maintained as I was unable to pronounce Patricia when she was a baby and I was not quite two, I called her Trish and this was the name adopted by our family and in due course her school friends.

We had an idyllic childhood growing up on the small family farm at Nanson. There was security, love and a community spirit second to none where everyone shared and helped each other without having to think about it. This attitude engendered in Trish the qualities she employed later in life to do the same for her own neighbours and members of the districts in which she lived. As children we had our jobs to do on the farm. These ranged from helping round the house to feeding pet lambs, collecting eggs and so on. Before school we delivered milk to the neighbours. Coral had the long run delivering the milk in billycans carried on her bike whereas Trish and I carried our cans and walked to the nearer houses. We then returned home to finish our preparations for school before walking the mile down the road to the small convent school which we all attended for our primary education. Saturday mornings were reserved for chaff cutting where we lifted up each sheaf on to a table, cut the haybands and pushed them along to Dad to feed into the chaffcutter.

We were never short of playmates as the little settlement was home to several families employed on the Railway and Roads Board and there were several small farms as well. Most boasted large families, so from an early age our social life was busy. Trish was always popular with her peers and also with older people, charming her way into their hearts. When Trish was about 3 years of age we were all gathered after Mass at Nanson one Sunday when Mr Mazzuchelli one of the local gentlemen greeted her with a pat on the head and the question “How is my little Patti today?” Obviously offended by this lack of formality she replied “My name is Patricia Maud.” When Trish learned to read she always had a book close at hand. Mum soon picked up on the fact that favourite reading times for Trish coincided with washing up times when neither Trish nor the book could be located, hence the introduction of the roster. Trish’s reading material was varied. In addition to any books we may have had at home or one from school, she devoured comics, newspapers, farm journals and even the Hansard, the word for word record of parliamentary proceedings which arrived in the mail from time to time. Perhaps this is where an interest in local government had its beginnings in her life. A talented and industrious student, Trish excelled at school, achieving top marks at all times. When she moved on to Stella Maris (now Nagle College) she was soon placed in the year above her age group effectively skipping one year. After her Junior Certificate Year she chose a commercial course and on leaving school, quickly obtained employment with Mr Paddy Glynn a well known solicitor in Geraldton. Later she worked for Elders GM and other stock firms and for an accountant. Her expertise in the accounting area stood her in good stead and she was able to employ these skills in family businesses later in life. For a short period, Trish assisted Dad on the farm driving our Fordson Major tractor for seeding and other farm work. She also worked for a while in Perth but was happy to return home to the surroundings close to her heart.

From mud pies and rag dolls to the more sophisticated pursuits of teenage girls Trish enjoyed life. She gave generously and took enjoyment from being involved. As a child she attended tap dancing classes run by Mrs Doreen Dawson and took part in the concert productions from time to time. Her love of dancing continued and she attended the local dances and balls in the area and surrounding districts. She was never short of admirers and so always had an abundance of partners for these occasions. She was a member of the Geraldton Concert Artists and enjoyed working to produce the shows the group staged. Reading poetry was another hobby and it was no effort for her to rattle off verse after verse of the works of Banjo Paterson or Henry Lawson. The Junior Farmer Movement was very active at the time and here too Trish was a responsible member. She undertook courses including woolclassing, participated in debating and travelled interstate with the group. The Chapman Valley Show claimed her interest as well and she assisted as a steward for this organization. In the 60’s Trish was persuaded to enter the Miss Sunshine Festival Queen Competition and was voted the winner. She also won the Northern Districts section of the Miss Australia Competition in the early 60’s.

Looking back over the years of our youth I reflect on the life of our sister and I know that in all her undertakings she approached life with a great work ethic, love, respect and gratitude. May she rest in peace.

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