Gunnedah Shire Council was last night set to consider two names ‘Flett’ and ‘Thew’ for inclusion on its Naming of Public Infrastructure and Public Acknowledgements Policy register.

Council received a request from the Flett family for consideration of the ‘Flett’ name to be added to the policy name register, in honour of Maurice (Tom) Flett and Alice Flett.

The request for inclusion is based on their contribution to Gunnedah’s infrastructure, farming and sporting sectors and the continued community participation of family members. 

A request was also received from the Thew family in honour of Kenneth H Thew based on his contribution to the development of Gunnedah’s retail and services sector.

It was noted that adding the names ‘Flett’ and ‘Thew’ to the policy name register did not endorse their use for the naming of any specific infrastructure as this would be subject to a separate report to council if selected. The report to council had also not considered the appropriateness of the names with regards to the Geographical Names Board of NSW Policy, Place Naming (2019).

In background to councillors, the report stated Maurice (Tom) Flett was born in Gunnedah (July 1918) and married Alice Wise, born in Gunnedah (January 1922). Tom was the second child of Hilton Flett and Mary Ellen Flett (nee Woodhead) and was a coalminer, share farmer and horse trainer. Tom drove and trained trotters including “Gunnedah Lass” and “Mosac”. Tom worked on the first Gunnedah sewage plant before moving to Victoria to complete the same on the sewage plant in Trafalgar. Tom and Alice moved back to Gunnedah and spent time carrying as a “wood getter” before share farming and then purchasing their own farm “Seaspray”. The farm was then run by their children Louis and Russell until its sale in 1964. Their daughters Robin and Gayle resided in Sydney and the Hunter region. 

Tom enjoyed sport including ferrying spectators to the local football matches in nearby towns and participating in golf, bowls, fishing and woodchopping. Tom and Alice enjoyed farming competitions such as “standing field” wheat competition and the ‘Tomato Day Competition’. Sport is continued by the Flett family with Louis and Russell being inaugural and life members of the Gunnedah Pistol Shooting Club and active in bowls.

In further background to council, the report described Mr Thew’s early life – born and raised in the Wahroonga area of Sydney. He started his economics degree at Sydney University in 1940 and enlisted in the 2nd AIF in 1942. He served as a Lieutenant in New Guinea and completed his service in 1945. Following his discharge he finished his economics degree and practised as a chartered accountant in Sydney.

In 1955 Ken and his wife Barbara moved their family of five young children to Gunnedah, setting up an accounting practice serving local businesses and rural clients such as McDonagh’s department store and the Toyota dealership.

Ken was a very active community member serving as an alderman on Gunnedah Municipal Council for a total of 12 years between 1959 and 1974. During that time, he was also a member of The Namoi Valley County Council from 1965 to 1971. He also served on the management committee of Gunnedah Abattoirs and various sub committees of council throughout his tenure. 

A list of some of his other contributions to the Gunnedah and district community includes honorary treasurer of Gunnedah Show Society for more than a decade; part time teacher and mentor of accountancy and bookkeeping students at Gunnedah Tech College (now TAFE); first president of the Parents and Citizens Association of the new Gunnedah High School; long term member of Gunnedah West Rotary and treasurer of foundation committee; elder of St Andrews Presbyterian Church; mentor and advisor to many small businesses and family farming operations in Gunnedah district and treasurer for Gunnedah Golf Club.

Barbara Thew was also an active community member serving as president of the Gunnedah Hospital Women’s Auxiliary and as a member of the show society women’s committee.

The inclusion of the names Flett and Thew was recommended by the council officer and was listed to be voted on by councillors at the March ordinary meeting to be held at Tambar Springs on Wednesday evening. 

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