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May 27th at 1 pm, Pilgrim Centre 12 Flinders St.

Experiences in the Role of Councillor

Brian Thom

Having worked as an AMP Society employee from age 15 to age 35 and then as an AMP Senior Agent and AMP Financial Advisor within the Gawler and Barossa Valley area for 20 years, Brian retired at age 55 in the year 2000. His wife Bev [of now 50 years] was concerned that Brian would have too much idle time and she asked whether Brian should stand at the then forthcoming Local Government elections for Town of Gawler Council.

That challenge was taken up and after a month or so of canvassing for votes, Brian was elected with 4 other new aspirants to add to the 5 previous Councillors who got re-elected. The new Council was headed by Mayor Tony Piccolo [Hon Tony Piccolo MP] and it had 5 new Councillors, 5 previous Councillors, 5 men and 5 women, and, in Brian’s view, there were 5 Councillors with leanings towards the Liberal Party and 5 with Labour Party leanings. Talk about having a “balanced” Council? Having said that, in that and later terms of Council that Brian experienced, political leanings were never an issue.

In 2005, when Tony Piccolo retired from Council, Helena Dawkins was elected Mayor by the Elected Members and Brian was elected Deputy Mayor. Brian continued as Deputy Mayor when Brian Sambell was elected by ratepayers as the new Mayor and, in all, Brian had a total of 7 years as Deputy Mayor within the 14 ½ years that he was on Council.

Throughout the 14 ½ years, Brian championed the promotion of Gawler’s history, the Council having proper street names, feral pigeon control, heritage building matters, the establishment of a Graffiti Removal Team, and Gawler’s ultimate expansion, to name just a few specific issues.

In 2011, Brian was concerned that Gawler’s photographic history was being lost, hidden and/or not being shared and so he established the Gawler History Team Inc. The gawler.nowandthen.net.au website was created. (That website has now been superseded this month by the new website gawlerhistory.com which now has over 21,000 Gawler photos and articles visible for the world to see).

 The Team has monthly meetings with Guest Speakers and all addresses are now shown on the video section of the website.

Over the last 4 years, Brian has been one of the seven members of the Gawler Heritage Collection Committee which has met monthly to plan for the transformation of the Gawler Institute and Gawler Town Hall to become the Gawler Civic Centre [which was dedicated last month], as well as having input to ensure the proper collation and display of Gawler’s thousands of historic items (many of which had been stored for 20 years out of sight). This has now been primarily achieved and the current “Into the Light” exhibition created in the old Council Chambers within the Gawler Civic Centre is a joy to behold.

Approaching age 70, Brian decided not to seek re-election on Council as he wanted to concentrate on the Gawler History Team involvement; as Founder and Chairman. Brian never regrets his time being an Elected Member of Town of  Gawler Council and will always appreciate the support that the public gave him.