‘Gillingham Road’ raised

A ROAD may well be named after a paramedic who once had an ambulance named in his honour, and his wife who helped found Denmark’s infant health clinic.

Denmark Shire CEO Bill Parker has called for comments on plans to name a future road ‘Gillingham’ after the late Wally and Christina Gillingham.

President of the Denmark Historical Society Bev McGuinness said naming a road after the Gillinghams was a great idea.

She said Wally (1898-1970) was “instrumental in establishing the St John ambulance service in Denmark”.

Wally Gillingham Denmark
Christina and Wally Gillingham in 1947. Photo: Courtesy Denmark Historical Society

Wally and his family came to Kentdale as group settlers in 1927, and when Denmark Agricultural College opened in 1942, he gave first aid lessons to the students twice a week.

Christina moved to Denmark in 1911, aged 11, after her father procured a 100-acre block of land.

She and Wally met in 1919 and quickly established themselves as movers and shakers in the Denmark community.

Christina organised bridge nights at her home to raise money for the Red Cross and was instrumental in founding the Denmark Infant Health Clinic. She oversaw construction of Denmark’s first infant health building, and died in Denmark Hospital 1986. 

Wally was one of three original ambulance officers in Denmark, and later received the high honour of having an ambulance van named after him.

Chairperson of St John Ambulance in Denmark, Marion Macdougall, said in the early days the three ambulance officers had no back-up.

“If a call came, they went and it didn’t matter if it was morning, noon, night,” she told The Voice of the South.

“Originally they’d get in their own car because they didn’t have an ambulance.

“They would travel on all kinds of roads, often in the middle of nowhere.”

Ms Macdougall said Wally served as an ambo for 31 years.

“He received recognition from the St John Ambulance Association in terms of medallions and recognition bars, but I don’t think he’s ever had recognition from the Shire,” she said.

“I think these things are really important because society wouldn’t work without volunteers.

“We actually save people’s lives, and there’s a wide range of roles from operational, to support people, and people who do community transport, so it gives people a really good opportunity to give back to the community.”

Anyone thinking of volunteering for the Denmark ambulance service can call Ms Macdougall on 0447 762 458. The Shire is taking comments on the planned road name until April 26.

Categories: Denmark, HISTORY

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