Office Bearers:


Dr. Sharon Thomas

Vice Chairman:

Dr. Bella George

Hon. Secretary:

Dr. Shoma Baidya

Hon. Treasurer:

Mr. Richard Caitens

Publicity Officer & Newsletter Editor:

Mrs. Cathy Chandani


Regarding Donations:

P. O. Box 374, Northgate Qld 4013

Email: cmcvellore@optusnet.com.au

General enquiries:





May 2023

May 2022

August 2021

March 2021


FOV Qld Chairpersons Report

2021 -22

Many of us assumed that 2022 would the start of a new year, free from many of the restrictions the Covid 19 pandemic placed on us in 2020 and 2021. However, the pandemic has continued to affect our lives in 2022, and therefore activities related to FOV Queensland. However, despite these seeming setbacks, God has continued to be faithful to FOV Queensland, and CMC Vellore.

FOV Queensland would not have been able to do what we did without support from the committee, and members of FOV Qld branch.

Activities and Highlights:

FOV Qld AGM 2021:
was held on 13th Nov 2021 at Nazareth Lutheran Church. Whilst most of us met in the Church Hall, our speaker was Dr Shantidani Minz from RUHSA, a peripheral unit of CMC Vellore, who spoke by Zoom. Dr Minz spoke about RUHSA?s health outreach which includes eye care, elderly centres, and youth and adolescent programs. One batch from their Community College was eligible for industrial training after completing the classroom component of their course. COVID vaccination in the community was one of their main activities in keeping with the current world milieu, contributing to Government efforts in vaccinating as many as possible. Many FOV Qld supporters contributed to the Vaccinate Vellore program, for which RUHSA was at the forefront. The FOV Qld audit was completed and available at the AGM. Thank you to Jason O?Connor CPA, our auditor.

The new Committee was elected at the AGM:
Honorary President: Sharon Thomas
Honorary Vice President: Bella George
Honorary Secretary: Shoma Baidya
Honorary Treasurer: Richard Caitens Honorary
Newsletter Editor: Neeta Wilfred
Honorary Committee members: Rev Brian Lee, Rev Ian Kerr, Janet Evans, Kerry Griffiths, Neeta Wilfred, Helen Menzies, Gwen Ward, Rev John Hooper, Gwenda Spencer, Cathy Chandani, Belinda Gledhill, Daniel James, Vasant Ravikumar, and Ruth Schneider.

Further News:

Rev Brian Lee decided it was time he resigned from the FOV Qld committee. His association with FOV Qld started in the late 1960s and then again after his returned from Sydney in the late 1980s. While he was in Sydney, he became a member of the Australian Vellore Board, and then became the President of that. Over the years he attended several Board Meetings at CMC Vellore and was able to visit the College and Hospital several times. ?India? is part of Rev Lee, and he continues to be a supporter of CMC Vellore.

The committee held a farewell tea for Rev Brian lee, Rec Eric Lawson, and Dr Frank Garlick on April 9, 2022. We were pleased that Mrs Claire Mainstone, Mr Ray and Mrs Joan Hill were able to attend the tea as well. Claire managed the FOV Qld Street Stalls for many years. Mr and Mrs Hill oversaw the Toowong Stall. Various speakers recounted their memories of Rev Lee, Dr Garlick and his mum, Dr Felix Arden, and Dr John Vance. Dr Garlick was unfortunately unable to attend the meeting due to ill health. Rev Ian Kerr was also unable to attend the meeting due to ill health.

The committee was very saddened to hear that Rev Ian Kerr took ill in late March 2022, diagnosed with a terminal illness. Sadly, he passed away on 21 of April 2022. His funeral was on 29 of April 2022. Unfortunately, none of the committee was able to attend the funeral as we were not aware he had passed away. Rev Kerr was a quiet, stolid committee member. He loved being the MC for our fund-raising dinners, being a sticker for punctuality. More than once our caterer put his patience to the test!

During the year, the committee felt we should look for new committee members. Dr Chellam Kirubakaran?s name was put forward. She was approached and has graciously consented to be part of the committee. Dr Chellam Kirubakaran, paediatrician, was on the faculty of CMC Vellore for decades before she moved to Australia. She now lives in Sunshine Coast, semiretired; we look forward to her contribution to FOV Qld.

Fund raising dinner: whilst traditionally held on the last Saturday of May each year, unfortunately we had to cancel the dinner for 2021. In 2022, whilst initially planned to be held in September, the Committee decided to hold the dinner in October, on the same day the AVB-AGM is to be held in Brisbane. A smaller scale than usual dinner has been planned at the Nazareth Lutheran Church on 22/10/2022.

Newsletters: Cathy, Belinda and Kerry produced the FOV Qld Vellore Newsletter in November 2021, and Neeta Wilfred, the new Publicity Officer for FOV Qld, produced one in May 2022. The newsletter is sent out at least twice a year to advertise up-coming events and tell stories about the work at CMC Vellore.

Collaboration with Australia Vellore Board:
The AVB AGM was held virtually on 23 October 2021. Bella, Richard, and Sharon attended the meeting in their capacity as AVB members. Neeta, Shoma, and Janet attended as FOV Qld representatives. Dr JV Peter spoke from CMC Vellore by Zoom and highlighted CMC?s ongoing response to the Covid. He expressed gratitude to all financial and prayer supporters.

Fund Raising:
The closure of our street stalls in 2019 for various reasons, and then the onset of Covid with numerous restrictions, meant our main fund raising was by donations from friends and alumni. Donations have continued to be generous. I gratefully acknowledge and thank those who contribute and promote our cause Eagle Junction State School has been a regular donor to FOV Qld over the years. Committee meetings: These were held every quarter, over zoom or in person at Nazareth Lutheran Church, Woolloongabba. The committee is thankful to the Church for the use of its facilities for our committee meetings, FOV Qld AGMs, as well as AVB-AGM and FOV Qld fund raising dinner in 2022.

Acknowledgements and Thanks:
I would like to finish by expressing my sincere appreciation to my fellow committee members for their efforts and contribution over the past year and for the insight and expertise each one brings to overseeing FOV Queensland activities. It is an inspiring team, working together to achieve our aims and objectives.

Sharon Thomas
Honorary Chairperson, Friends of Vellore Queensland Branch 12/10/2022


The History of Friends of Vellore, Queensland

By Rev. Brian Lee

Rev Bertram Wyllie, Master of Wesley College, Sydney, and Dr Reg Walker, both founder members of Friends of Vellore in Sydney in 1943, came to Brisbane in 1958 and, along with Rev Norman Cocks, met with Dr Felix Arden and the Revs Tom Rees-Thomas, Bernard Langford and James Sweet in Brisbane?s Canberra Hotel, urging them to do something in Queensland to support the work of CMC Vellore. At a meeting of 36 people in Brisbane on 21 August 1958, Rev Norman Cocks, representing the Australian Vellore Board, was the speaker and an interim committee was appointed with a view to establishing a Qld Friends of Vellore. The interim committee included Rev Tom Rees-Thomas (d. Sept 1993), Dr Felix Arden (d. May 2002) and Rev James R Sweet (d. Aug 2007) who, over the years, all served terms as Chairmen and all remained Committee members until their deaths. Rev Bertram Wyllie returned to Brisbane for a further meeting of the Queensland group on 26 November 1958 at which a committee was elected.

When the Australian Vellore Board annual meeting in 1960 agreed to the appointment of Queenslanders Drs Frank and Val Garlick to Vellore it opened a new dimension of interest and a new fund-raising challenge for Qld Friends. After a dedication service in Brisbane the Garlicks left for India on 19 May, 1962 with their 5 month old twins and worked at CMC Vellore until 1970. Their newsletters and furlough visit encouraged increased membership of Qld Friends, generous giving and enthusiastic fund-raising. Queenslanders at CMC in the 1960s were Helen North (Physiotherapist), Ann Donchak (Nurse), Claire Heaton (later Lee) (Physiotherapist) and Beryl Hoyling (Bacteriologist).

Other Queenslanders who have worked at Vellore in later years are Cathy Hill (later Chandani) (Occupational Therapist); Volunteers ? Dr David Bennett (Plastic Surgeon), Dr John Vance (Child Health at RUHSA), Rev Jan Park (Chaplaincy), David Drinkall (Chaplaincy), Ian Lynch (Radiographer) and Monica Lynch (Person-to-Person program), Fiona Hogg (Research at RUHSA), Peter Lee (Administration) and Jan Lee (Teacher). Some Queensland medical students also have been at CMC Vellore for their elective term.

Some time before 1964 Rev Bernard Langford, a member of the original committee, was elected Treasurer, a position he held until his death in July, 1985. His careful attention to the list of donors in those early years of Qld Friends of Vellore ensured a steady flow of personal gifts, helping Qld Friends meet the annual expectations of the Australian Vellore Board. In 1965 the Qld quota was £400: by 1985 it was $20,000.

Early in the life of Qld Friends Dr Felix Arden used regular newsletters to pass on news from Vellore and to give notice of meetings. If there were letters before 1964 they were not kept. By 1969 the letters became ?a periodical? registered for bulk postage. By 1972 there were 287 names on the mailing list which over the years has grown to about 400 in 2007. Dr Arden continued to produce these letters until 1998 when Claire Lee became editor. After her death in 2003, Brian Lee took up this task.

During the 1960s groups were formed in Toowoomba and Mackay and Dr Arden?s hope was that there would be other groups all to be coordinated by the Brisbane Committee. This did not work out, however, and those two groups eventually closed.

The name of Mrs Hope Rickwood first appears in the June 1968 newsletter which mentions ?considerable sums? ($572) ?from street stalls and other functions organised by Mrs Hope Rickwood?. She became a tireless worker, encouraging many others in raising funds especially to support the Garlicks. A stall had been organised by Mrs Kathleen Garlick in the grounds of the Garlick home in Jethro Street, Aspley, and she called on her friend, Mrs Hope Rickwood, and others to help her. Shortly after that the ?Street Stall era? began. The April 1969 Newsletter has an historic notice: ?On Thursday, May 22nd from 8.30am Mrs Hope Rickwood and her team will be conducting a stall in Tank Street (near McDonnell and East?s). Entire proceeds for Vellore. Please help if you can.? Over the years Vellore stalls have been held regularly in various places in Brisbane. In 2007 there is a monthly Vellore Stall in Tank Street, Brisbane CBD and a similar monthly stall in the suburban shopping centre of Toowong ? thanks to Hope Rickwood?s initiative in 1969 and the many helpers in the years since. Mrs Nancy Stirling helped with sorting goods for sale and making sweets from the beginning of the stalls. After Hope Rickwood?s death in July 1988 she undertook to store goods in a specially fitted shed at her home, then sort and prepare what was needed for each stall, as well as continuing to cook sweets. This she did until her health began to fail in 1995. She died in September 2004, a Vellore supporter to the end.

Early in the 1970s, a newspaper article praising the work of Mrs Rickwood and her helpers drew the attention of the Queensland Justice Department who asked the Biblical question, ?By what authority do you do these things?? This led to the preparation of a new Constitution for Qld Friends in a form acceptable to the Justice Department. Four objects of this Constitution were: the promotion of knowledge and interest in the work of Vellore, enrolling Friends, cooperating with the Australian Vellore Board, and raising funds. By 1976 the Australian Vellore Board annual meeting was told that Queensland?s contribution greatly exceeded that of any other Australian Group.

The Qld Friends? annual meeting included a dinner from 1970 until the 1999 meeting. The admission charge was set just to cover the cost. For 20 of those years quality catering at a minimum cost was done by the Ladies? Guild of the Graceville Uniting Church.

When people came on 24 September, 1983 to the Wesley Hall, Ann Street, Brisbane to the first Indian Dinner organised by Qld Friends, it opened a new opportunity for raising money and for increasing the number of Queenslanders who learned something about CMC Vellore. Since 1985 these Indian Dinners, by 2007 usually on the last Saturday in May, have been held each year. Mrs Jean Sheehan, in charge of the catering for the first Indian Dinner, and one of her assistants in 1983, Dr Bella George, are still among its key organisers.

Inspired by news of an activity of the S A Group, in 1987/88 Dr Felix Arden sent out an appeal for donations and membership of the Qld Friends to all the doctors registered in Queensland. His wide experience as a specialist paediatrician and former Superintendent of the Children?s Hospital enabled him to add a personal note to many of the appeal letters. A further appeal, this time with the help of Dr Frank Garlick, was made in 1993. These appeals not only brought in extra funds for Vellore but also increased the number of doctors agreeing to be listed as Friends.

Early visitors to Queensland from Vellore included Dr John Webb, Dr Koshy, (both Directors), Dr A S Fenn (Professor of Surgery), Dr P Zachariah (Associate Director) and his wife Anna, Rev Fr Oommen (Senior Chaplain), Dr Jacob Kuruvilla (Surgeon) and nurses Marlienne Thomson from South Australia, Ann Bothamley from U K and Val Rudeforth (now Nelson) from Western Australia. In recent years the Directors, Drs L B M Joseph, Benji Pulimood, V I Mathen, Joyce Ponnaiah and George Chandy, have visited Queensland at least once, also Dr M C Mathew (Deputy Director) and Dr Samuel Chittaranjan (Associate Director).

In 1978, the Qld Friends reported to the Australian Vellore Board annual meeting – ‘We still look a little anxiously at the increasing age of many of our Friends and the losses that the next decade must bring, at the difficulties attached to enrolling new members and at a Vellore that is gradually becoming independent of Australian members of its staff’. Thirty years on, the Qld Committee – old and young – look forward to ever new ways of linking the people of Queensland to the great work of CMC Vellore.

Past Office Bearers


Dr Felix Arden 1958-1972;
Rev J Brian Lee 1972-1976;
Rev Tom Rees-Thomas 1976-1979
Mr Stephen Chase 1980-1982;
Rev James R Sweet 1982-1985
Dr Keith Graham 1985-1987;
Dr John Vance 1987-1998;
Rev John C Hooper 1998-2003;
Dr Bella George 2003 -2010;
Mrs. Cathy Chandani 2010 – 2020
Dr. Sharon George 2020 –

Hon Secretaries:

Grace May-Wilkie (before 1969),
Hope Rickwood 1969-1971;
Ann Digby (later Crisp) 1971-1973;
Helen Menzies 1973-1975 then 1982-1988;
Dr Felix Arden 1975-1982;
Joan Merritt 1988-1991;
Lyn Bavister 1991-1997;
Jan Costin 1997-2000;
Gwenda Spencer 2000 –
Ruby Chari
Dr. Sharon George
Dr. Shoma Baidya 2020-

Hon Treasurers:

Rev Bernard Langford from before 1964 to 1985;
Paul Donchak 1985-1994;
Richard Caitens 1994 –

Stall Coordinators:

Hope Rickwood 1971-1988;
Barbara Graham 1988-1993;
Dawn Vance 1993-1996;
Helen Menzies 1996-2002;
Claire Mainstone 2004 –

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