The ‘Table of Knowledge’ celebrated another 90th birthday last month with Kevin Kelly the latest nonagenarian to grace the tables at The Verdict.

Following on from Tom Lyle’s 90th birthday in January, Kevin was next in line and his friends at the Table of Knowledge, including his brother Phil, did not forget, with a cake and a cuppa the order of the day.

Phil celebrated again on the Saturday night with his wife Clara, family and friends over dinner at Maverick’s. He was also joined by his siblings Phillip, Roslyn (Forster), of Weston, and Chris Kelly. 

Born at Tamworth in 1933, Kevin spent his early years at Piallamore where his father worked on his uncle’s property.

He started school there and completed his primary education at Curlewis when his father found a position as working manager on the McCormack family property in 1945. 

After leaving school, Kevin worked on farms around the district, and was called up for national service duties in 1952, with his initial training at Old Holsworthy for 96 days followed by weekend camps at

Gunnedah and a yearly two-week stint at Singleton Army Base.

He married Clara Stanger on October 16, 1954, at the Methodist Church in Curlewis. They began their married life together on the Beer family property ‘Dean’s Mountain’ at Premer, living in a very basic farm cottage with no electricity. After six months, Kevin began share farming at Allawah near Piallaway with Clara’s cousin. The property only yielded around 300 acres of wheat and a few head of cattle, so Kevin also worked casually for neighbouring property owners.

During that time, he learned a bit about carpentry after working with a builder in Curlewis on a few homes, in the 1982 drought helping to build a new church in Curlewis where he and Clara are still involved in the faith community.

Their first child Rose was born in January 1956, followed by Ben in December 1958. By 1960, the couple had placed a deposit on the property Merrigal near Spring Ridge, and they welcomed their third child Fiona in that year, with their youngest Bettina born in 1964.

When Rose contracted meningococcal meningitis which caused irreversible brain damage, their life changed.

Kevin threw himself into working as a volunteer for Challenge Community Services, where he served on the committee advocating for people with a disability at all levels of government. 

In 2009 he was honoured with the Member of the Order of Australia Medal (AM) for service to people with a disability and their families through a range of executive and advocacy roles. He served as chair of Challenge Disability Services, vice-chair, executive committee member, and chair and director of the Challenge Foundation of NSW (1988-1993). He is also a trustee of The Orphans Trust. 

The younger children began their education at Spring Ridge and the family took part in horse sports, school sports and other activities, moving on to various high schools to complete their studies.

With their family raised, Kevin and Clara moved into Gunnedah and settled into their home overlooking the golf course, while taking a keen interest in the lives of their grandchildren and great-grandchildren – with a cuppa and a yarn at the Table of Knowledge an essential each week. 

Tom Lyle’s 90th birthday can be found at this link:

‘Table of Knowledge’ toasts Tom Lyle’s 90th (

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