Gunnedah, NSW
Lions Park health services emergency entrance Aids Memorial Tuin Gunnedah sinds 1 December 1994
zonder namen

Every year families and friends gather to remember and reflect on their loss. Candles are lit as the names of those inscribed on the memorial cairn are read. Community nurse Ruth Pope welcomed everyone to the gathering and introduced guest speaker Jude Edwards, whose brother William Guyer died from an AIDS related illness in 1993. Ms Edwards recently returned from a trip to Cambodia where she visited an AIDS orphanage. William Guyer’s parents Don and Lorraine Guyer, of Tamworth, attend the memorial every year to to honour their son, and this year there was a large gathering of the Guyer family.

Cambodia has the highest HIV prevalence rate in Southeast Asia, with an identified infected population of 64,750, including 3350 children under the age of 15. The National Centre for HIV/AIDS, Dermatology and STDs (NCHADS), estimates that as many as 109,000 children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Community nurse Ruth Pope invited Parish Priest of St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Fr John McHugh, to light a candle in memory of the late Sr Monica Horan RSM, who played a supportive role at the memorial service every year. Fr McHugh also offered the prayers of comfort for families and friends and loved ones of those who have died from AIDS. Steve McCauley sang two very poignant songs, Bob Dylan’s To Make You Feel My Love and See Ya When I’m Lookin’ at Ya Mate, written by Paul Grierson, of the Simply Bushed Band.

The memorial service closed with candlelight memorial organiser, Val Harris, leading the traditional 23rd Psalm. Val lost her son Peter to the killer virus in 1993 and with the support of another Gunnedah woman, whose son had HIV, they organised a meeting to form the Gunnedah and District HIV/AIDS Education and Support Group. Both women worked very hard to educate the wider community and support families  – and that was when the memorial garden was established and the first candlelight memorial was held. 

The inscription on the memorial cairn reads:
This garden was created by the Gunnedah and District HIV/AIDS Support and Education Group, the Gunnedah Health Service and Gunnedah Shire Council as a monument to those lives lost to the HIV/AIDS virus.

Photo Marie Hobson Namoi Valley Independent

7 Mei 2013
Marie Hobson, Gunnedah