Annual Report

I am honoured to present the Annual Report of the Victorian Branch of the Royal Over-Seas League covering the activities for 2015. During the year we welcomed 49 new members. Sir Anthony Figgis retired as Chairman of the League after five years which included a visit to Australia where he and Lady Figgis were entertained royally by all branches and in Victoria included lunch with Dame Elisabeth Murdoch at Langwarrin, Dinner with the British High Commissioner in Canberra and the storm of the century in Melbourne the day before a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral. Sir Anthony also hosted the gathering of branches from around the world in London for the 100th Anniversary of the League in 2010. We wish him and Mayella a well-earned retirement.


Mr. Simon Ward

Simon Ward who was Treasurer of the League for 10 years took over from Sir Anthony Figgis as Chairman at last year’s Annual Meeting in London and was to visit Australia this year. Unfortunately after his first Chairman’s lunch in November he suffered an attack and died and we await news of his successor.

Mr. Roderick Lakin MBE

The Director of Arts Roderick Lakin MBE died following an accident with a bus in Edinburgh and his private funeral was on Monday 14 September. Former Director-General, Robert Newell CVO delivered the eulogy having known Roderick and Margaret for 31 years. Roderick was employed by the League as Director of Music from 1984 and became Director of Arts in 1991 when Bob Newell became Director-General. A Memorial Concert was held in London on 16 November last year. We will remember Roderick as the fellow who brought forward the musical gems both instrumental and voice who entertained us over the years.

Mrs Alma Smith

Council Member from 1990 – 2010 died in June having been a member since 1977 and a Life Member. Alma contributed in many ways to the League not least of all at the Annual Art Exhibition/Competition that we use to conduct.

Mrs Audrey Holland

Member since 1978 and subsequently a Life Member until her death in 2015. Audrey was a great supporter of the League and attended many functions with a number of loyal societies supported by her daughter Annette.

Our Patron

A farewell for the Governor HE the Hon Alex Chernov AC QC was held at Government House on 23 June with members of the Executive attending and he was thanked for his support of the League. The new Governor HE The Hon. Linda Dessau AM accepted an invitation to be Patron of the Victorian Branch.

Australian Honours

Professor Peter Ebeling AO became an Officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to medicine in the field of bone health, through academic contributions and research initiatives in a range of administrative, executive and professional roles.
Dr Barbara Madder-Wellington AM became a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to Veterinary Science and to professional associations for animal welfare and to the community.
Mrs Judith Ryles OAM received a Medal of the Order of Australia for service to the community of Melbourne.

British High Commissioner

British High Commissioner HE Paul Madden CMG completed his term of four years and was farewelled at reception given by Consul-General Gareth Hoar; he contributed significantly to the relationship between our two countries. A Reception was given for the new High Commissioner Mrs Menna Rawlings CMG who subsequently issued an invitation to attend the Magna Carta Lecture by Prime Minister Tony Abbott MP in the Great Hall, Parliament House Canberra in June.


Mrs Coral Strahan retired after 24 years with the Victorian Branch as Secretary. Coral gave exceptional service to our members both in Victoria and around Australia. Nothing was ever too much trouble and members appreciated the assistance and support offered. Ron Williamson who had been on Council since 2009 was offered the position; he resigned from Council and is the new Secretary of the Victorian Branch.
Ned Mahony resigned after 10 years on Council and Jane Teasdale retired after 8 Years on Council having been a member of the League since 1959. The new Members welcomed on to Council were Mrs. Annette Cook member since 2005 and Mrs. Iona McKinnon member since 2009.
The Branch was pleased to receive a $1,000 Donation from the Estate of Life Member Thelma Rensch. Thelma was a great supporter of the League and other Loyal Societies and remembering us in her will was most gracious.
Vice-Chairman Sir Roger Carrick KCMG LVO visited Melbourne with his wife Hilary; they were entertained by the executive for lunch at the Melbourne Cricket Club in the Long Room.
Patricia McKendrick visited the UK during the year and was also congratulated on her recent marriage. Jean Black and Iona McKinnon also visited the UK during the year.
Prince Henry of Wales, Prince Harry, visited Australia early in the year training with the Australian Defence Forces in Sydney, Darwin and Perth. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge had a new daughter christened Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall visited Australia in November and visited Adelaide, Canberra, Sydney, Albany and Perth.

ROSL Music Bursary

Australian Singing Competition semi-finals were at North Sydney on Sunday 30 August with ten finalists including three from Victoria. The three Victorian’s went through to the final held in Sydney on Saturday 3 October, Grand Final day and Seymour Show Day and Maximilian Riebel counter Tenor from Victoria was successful with the Mathy Award and Damian Arnold tenor from NSW won the ROSL Bursary.

Development Project

The Development Project organised by the Victorian Branch to provide a computer laboratory for Selwyn College Secondary School in the Solomon Islands now has support from all Branches in Australia and is awaiting financial support from Headquarters before being finalised. Deputy President Christine Chamberlain has led the sub-committee on this project and kept in close contact with the School and Archbishop Dr. David Vunagi. This should be finalised in the near future.

Social Calendar

Members enjoyed seeing the movie The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and A Royal Night Out and also attending Anything Goes at the Princess Theatre.
A Coach Tour was organised to The Melba Estate Yarra Valley in March with all who attended enjoying a wonderful day out in the country, a guided tour of the garden was included as well as luncheon.
Members attended the World War I Centenary Exhibition at Melbourne Museum in April which had been flown out from London having appeared firstly at the Imperial War Museum.
A number of Members and friends attended the Victoria Opera “In Remembrance Concert” in August in Hamer Hall to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War.
A special Dinner to celebrate Her Majesty becoming our longest reigning sovereign  took place at the Melbourne Club on 10 September with guest speaker The Rt Rev the Hon Dr. Peter Hollingworth accompanied by Mrs Ann Hollingworth. Former Governor Sir James Gobbo and Lady Gobbo also attended as did the British Consul-General Gareth Hoar. Jean Black said Grace, Barbara Cummings proposed the Loyal Toast and Ron Williamson gave the vote of thanks.  Prime Minister Tony Abbott sent a special message. Prior to the Dinner a Celebratory Choral Evensong was held at St. Paul’s Cathedral led by the Dean of Melbourne, Dr Andreas Loewe with the Archbishop of Melbourne also attending. I read the first lesson and the Governor the second with Julie Sattler and John Short reading prayers.
A Concert to honour Roderick Lakin MBE took place at the home of Lino and Di Bresciani in November with soprano Kate Amos, who was brilliant, and Associate Artist David McNicol. This was a fitting tribute to a man that did so much to inspire and encourage young musical and artistic talent.
Our Christmas Reception was held at the home of the British Consul-General in December together with the Australia-Britain Society. Many thanks to Gareth and Rebecca Hoar.

AGM 2015

Dr Rob Webster Senior Vice-President RSL Victorian Branch spoke about the Centenary of World War I and was thanked by Dr. John Chamberlain.


Commonwealth Day was celebrated at the Gables with Mr.  Stephen Blair New Zealand Trade Commissioner and Consul-General to Melbourne, Gareth Hoar British Consul-General proposed the Loyal Toast. Queen’s Birthday Church Service was held at St. George’s Malvern on June 7 followed by lunch at Giorgio’s. An Office-bearers Reception was held at ESU House in October with representatives of kindred societies. Mr. Barrie Hunt succeeded Dr. Tony Cree OAM as Chairman of the CBCS. Graham Menzies was honoured for serving 50 years as Hon Treasurer of the CBCS. Julie Sattler and Ron Williamson continue as our delegates.

Club Liaison

The League continues to send Christmas Cards featuring Her Majesty The Queen to all levels of government and the community as well as other loyal societies and supporters. Our News Bulletin keeps members informed of events and matters of interest and our website provides further information on happenings and details of the League. We encourage members to provide their email address as more communication is happening via this medium and will only increase in the future.


Special thanks to Jean Black, Julie Sattler and Olwyn Plummer for keeping the office functioning while Coral Strahan was on sick and long service leave before retiring. Thanks to our Honorary Auditor Mr Andrew Nielsen for his diligence in auditing our accounts and providing a marvellous service. My thanks to Deputy President Christine Chamberlain for the support and service that she gives to the League and to Vice-Presidents Jean Black, John Short and now Jane Teasdale for the wonderful work they do for the League. Thank you to Jean for convening the Social Committee and being supported by Christine Chamberlain, Tony McNally, Barbara Cummings and Olwyn Plummer. Thank you to John Short as our Honorary Treasurer for the time and effort he devotes to our finances ably supported by Assistant Treasurer Julie Sattler.
Thank you also to Members of Council for the time and effort they give to furthering the aims of the League and for their support over the last twelve months.

Special thanks to Director-General Roddy Porter for his continuing interest and support and for keeping branches up to date with developments in London and beyond.


jason president


HM The Queen

HRH Princess Alexandra KG GCVO

Patron Victoria
The Hon. Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria

Chairman Australia & President Victoria
Jason Ronald OAM

Branch Secretary
Ron Williamson