The Story of the Red Feather

By Evelyn Petters

Editors past and present:

 Margaret Blaber 2000 Conf DinnerEvelyn Petters 2016

Margaret Blaber 1987 – 2001              Evelyn Petters 2003 – ongoing

At the Biennial Conference in April, Evelyn Petters, spoke about the history of our Newsletter, The Red Feather.  Here is an excerpt, starting with a letter written in 2001 by the former Editor, the late Margaret Blaber of Adelaide, SA.

“In mid-1987 I received a surprising phone call – would I be interested in organising a Newsletter for the Ryder-Cheshire Foundation?   There would be an honorarium.  …..  In half an hour a car arrived and I found myself at the home of Dame Roma Mitchell in East Terrace.  I was then introduced to Dame Roma, Leonard Cheshire and Sue Ryder.  Wow!  I was overawed at being “interviewed”.  Leonard offered me a cup of coffee and within a very short time I felt completely at ease.  I knew nothing about the Ryder-Cheshire organization, but I did know of Leonard Cheshire and his war time record.  It was a most unusual “interview”, more a conversation about what would be involved and an agreement that a monthly honorarium would be paid.   It never was.   It did not take me long to realise that the honorarium would be an expense that the organisation could ill-afford and the more I learned about Ryder-Cheshire the more I was happy to take on the task on a voluntary basis and did so for the next  15 years  …..  (and over 50 issues)”

 Margaret’s last Newsletter was in 2001. The issues in 2002 were produced by ACT and Victoria. Early in 2003 I too received a surprising phone call – from Peter Newton asking whether I would take over the Newsletter.  With some trepidation I accepted and commenced producing The Ryder Cheshire News (as it was then known) in May 2003 issue number 56 and have continued since then.

In May 2014 (issue number 83) the name was changed to The Red Feather following the decision made at the 2012 Biennial in Canberra.  (The Red Feather is the emblem of Leonard Cheshire).  Up until November 2010 it was published in black and white and in May 2011 we moved into colour.    Our forthcoming May issue will be number 87 which makes 31 issues over 13 years that I have produced.    From the very first issue of The Ryder Cheshire News it has been a valuable continuous and inspiring record of Ryder Cheshire developments and activities.

So what does Ryder-Cheshire gain from the Red Feather? The primary purpose is to keep our donors and supporters informed about the important humanitarian work being undertaken in all the Ryder-Cheshire homes including those within Australia as well as those in Timor Leste and India.  The content should help to motivate supporters and remind them that donations and sponsorships are vitally important to enable the work to continue. Another benefit is keeping the different groups and individuals within Ryder Cheshire Australia in touch with each other and up to date with what we are all doing.

The circulation is now 720 hard copies posted and approximately 470 emailed, making a total distribution of 1190 copies.   It is also available on our website.   Our recipients continue to be worldwide including the United Kingdom, India, East Timor, New Zealand and Germany as well as all states of Australia.

By providing information about ongoing projects overseas and within Australia, we continue to report and illustrate the worth of funds raised and endeavour to make the Red Feather interesting to our readers who are our valued supporters and volunteers.

Evelyn Petters,  West Australia