The idea that anyone can be connected to another person through a chain of acquaintances with no more than five intermediaries, isn’t just a theory, it’s a reality.

Six degrees of separation has played a part in the discovery of an invitation to celebrate the golden wedding anniversary of former Willala settlers, the late Tom and Ivy Carlyon, in 1957.

The invitation was given to local resident Robyn King by Michael Simpson who was having trouble opening a roll-top desk he had purchased on Gumtree and was surprised to discover that it was some old papers causing the problem. Among the papers was the invitation card.

A schoolteacher at Ashford, Michael Simpson had recognised the desk as a piece of furniture that had been manufactured in his grandparents’ factory, Dickin Furniture which had operated in Sydney from 1884 to1960.

The wedding anniversary celebration was to be held at the Mullaley Memorial Hall, on Saturday, October 26, 1957, at 6:30pm. Dancing was to be included.

A newspaper report of the day, described the function as a sit-down dinner attended by around 60 family and friends. The celebration had been organised by family members, Miss Mavis Carlyon, Mrs Clarice Clark, Tom

Carlyon and grandchildren Neville and Carolyn Clark, and Yvonne, Tom and Garry Carlyon.

Guests came from Boggabri, Tamworth, Kootingal, Curlewis and Gunnedah, with Jim Shaw presiding at the dinner.

The article reported that the happy couple received congratulations and many beautiful presents. A dance followed the dinner and “a very happy evening was brought to a close with the singing of Auld Lang Syne”.

The wedding had been held 50 years earlier at Willina, the home of the bride’s parents, in a double ceremony, with Thomas Carlyon’s brother John marrying Miss Mary Shaw. The Rev. Hutchinson was the officiating clergyman.

The Carlyon and Shaw family names are synonymous with the early settlement of the Willala district.

Thomas Carlyon and his brother John from Attunga had selected Ellerslie in 1905 before marrying Ivy and Mary Shaw. William and Emma Shaw had selected Willina in 1905, while their son William Eadie Shaw selected Kia-Ora at the same time.

Carlyon Creek runs through the property with two arms of the creek converging near the Willala Road – one from the Blairmore -Uplands area and the other from the Willala Hills area, fed by several gullies along the way.

John and Mary Shaw only stayed a few years and then moved to The Entrance. They had four children, Brida, Ted, Ena and Clive. Tom and Ivy Carlyon lived at Ellerslie until 1938 before retiring to The Entrance. Their family comprised Tom, Clarice and Mavis, who never married and moved to the Entrance with her parents.

Ellerslie was sold to Jack Shaw, who later sold it to his brother Jim. It then passed to Hazel and Wal Hughes – whose name coincidently is on the wedding anniversary invitation.

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