NICK OVERALL shares the story of the remarkable woman remembered in the naming of a recently refurbished park in West Queanbeyan.
HOPE Marland is one of Queanbeyan’s most iconic figures, serving as a councillor for 30 years and for upwards of 50 volunteering her time with local charities.
She died in 2014 at age 91 and with the Hope Marland Park, in Queanbeyan West, being recently refurbished, daughter Jillian Thomas was keen to share some of her mother’s story.
“She never stopped,” said Jill.
“There was always something she was doing, a project or charity or job, some way she could help out.”
Jill, now in her seventies, said she almost couldn’t believe how much Queanbeyan had developed since the family arrived in 1962, when Hope and husband Ken started an accountancy business in the centre of town.
Jill, 13 at the time, said that it didn’t take long before Hope was looking for ways she could serve the community.
“When we first moved here it was only a little country town, most of the roads were dirt. I think mum immediately saw the potential of what she might be able to do for the place,” said Jill.
Barely two years later, Hope had won a spot on the council, making her the second female alderman in the city’s history. She would also serve briefly as deputy mayor during her time.
All the while, she was teaching herself accountancy to help ensure the success of the family business.
“She read book after book after book,” said Jill.
“She’d come home from a council meeting or a fundraiser or whatever it might have been that day and she’d start studying.”
Hope was an advocate for women, a role model who broke the stereotypes of her time.
In 1984 she was elected the first female president of the NSW Local Government Association.
“I was always told she was two generations ahead of her time,” said Jill.
“She was a wonderful mother. She cared about us a lot, perhaps a little too overprotective at times.”
Jill also highlighted the contributions of her father, Ken.
“Mum wouldn’t have got to do half of what she did without dad. He was the quiet achiever. While mum was out doing all sorts of things for the community, dad would be at home looking after us, allowing that to happen,” said Jill.
One of Hope’s most dedicated passions was the Queanbeyan Building Society, an organisation dedicated to finding homes for disadvantaged and low-income families, Jill said.
She would go on to manage the Karabar Housing Co-operative, a similar organisation that she led for many years.
The co-operative was still running and Hope’s picture hangs proudly in the head office.
She was also deeply passionate about Legacy Australia, the Queanbeyan Children’s Special Needs Association, the YMCA, Rotary, Scouts, the Queanbeyan Hospital Auxiliary and the Business and Professional Women’s Club to name a few.
Her list of honours was as impressive as her contributions to her community, said Jill.
She was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) on Australia Day, 1988 and met the Queen when she was awarded the Order of the British Empire. She was also one of the few individuals to have a place on the Crawford Street honour walk of fame.
“She was still working the night before she died,” said Jill.
“She lived for others.”
Now, three generations of Hope’s family continue to live in Queanbeyan, with her family tree extending to seven grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.
For the whole family, the park’s refurbishment couldn’t be more special.
Originally named in Hope’s honour in 1996, a year after her retirement from the council, 2020 saw it upgraded with new and safer play equipment.
“It’s a park that my children and their children have gone to for years since,” said Jill.
“A lot of them have grown up now, as they do, but it’s special to have those memories.”