Friends say farewell to true gem
PAT Villarroya may have said farewell to the Gemfields but her presence and the changes she made for the community will never be forgotten.
Gemfields residents came together with Mayor Peter Maguire and Councillor Penny Bulger, to say goodbye to their good friend last week in what was supposed to be a surprise farewell.
Pat said although she knew about the get-together, it was heart-warming to see all her friends wish her all the best for her new venture to Bribie Island.
“I did know about today and it is lovely to see all these people,” she said.
In her 39 years on the Gemfields, Pat contributed much of her time and ideas to the community as a committee member for a number of organisations.
They included the Lioness club, medical centre, multi-purpose centre, fire brigade, museum and the shire council for many years.
Pat also helped build the Stockade, took part in the last census and was a well-known historian, documenting many important events for the Gemfields.
Originally from Victoria, Pat said she had no second thoughts about helping out.
“It’s just your own make-up – if you live in the community it’s great to be part of it,” she said. “The bottom line is, I’ve been part of building my own home.”
One of her fondest memories was from 2000 when she carried the Olympic torch.
“It was a great experience,” Pat said.
Her contributions have not gone unnoticed and she was named one of 20 Senior Citizens of the Year in 2001, selected by the Premier.
Pat said she would miss the lovely friends she made but she knew it wasn’t goodbye.
“They will stay in touch, we’re all great friends,” she said. “Everyone is friends on the Gemfields. Normally a gathering to say farewell to people is held in a cemetery and I’m glad mine’s not.”
Kim Thompson and Fred Wild were there and said it was almost too difficult to remember all the things she had done.
“For a lot of facilities in the town, Pat was a pushing force,” Kim said. “A lot of newcomers wouldn’t realise what she has done for the community. She is such a unique person.”
Fred said she even had a retirement village named after her.
“The cemetery at Rubyvale was also a passion of hers,” Fred said. “I reckon she’ll be coming back every now and again, but her drive and her enthusiasm will be missed.”