Almost a year to the day we finally held our long-awaited tribute to this popular Uralla citizen, a cricketing legend who all too soon had his career tragically cut short.
Last year McCrossin’s Mill was all set to hold this celebration for “Sunny Jim” just a week after our very successful Exhibition Opening and Celebration Dinner for International Women’s Day 2020, when Covid-19 struck.
Plans had to be put in reverse, bookings cancelled, money returned, and disappointingly we had to close our doors for the next few months.
Our Guest Speaker, Malcolm Knox, graciously agreed to postpone his flights and hotel bookings and reinstate them whenever we were able to reschedule this event, thankfully guaranteeing he would keep his promise to speak on this occasion.
Eventually, we were in a position to set another date, hoping all would go ahead as planned this time.
Fortuitously, during the early part of this year and just before we settled on the date, more artefacts belonging to Sunny Jim Mackay were offered to the Museum to be added to this exhibition.
The donor is Hugh Donaldson, great-nephew of Sunny Jim, and his donations are significant.
These extra artefacts, along with those already in the
exhibition, make up a significant and fitting tribute to the memory of this great Uralla cricketer, Sunny Jim Mackay, the best batsman in the world!
Going in to bat for
“SUNNY JIM” MACKAY!
Guests were met at the door by Ronny Porter, making sure that all observed the Covid-19 regulations, while house managers, Wendy and Louis van Ekert ushered everyone in to enjoy a complimentary glass of sparkling wine.
Moving upstairs, the Exhibition Curator, Kent Mayo, thanked his “Sunny Jim team”, Ann Hacker, Melissah Norris, Greg McClenehan and Jim Walkinshaw, and introduced Malcolm Knox to officially open the Exhibition.
Malcolm, a well-known Sydney journalist, commented on the Museum and how much he had enjoyed the approach to museology apparent at McCrossin’s Mill. He also disclosed that he was a descendant of Constable Alexander Walker and had “always been disturbed by the inversion of hero and villain” . He added, “Clearly, Walker was the hero and any other version, obviously fiction. Uralla should take note, and to that end, Thunderbolt Inn should become Walker Inn, then, Walker Motel, Walker Pub, and leading out of here, Walker Way. Sounds beautiful to me!”
Tearing away the covering of the impressive display, Malcolm declared the Exhibition open and everyone proceeded to the garden for canapes and drinks. As the guests were seated for dinner, UHS President, Louis van Ekert welcomed everyone, handing over to MC Annie Mayo to introduce Cameron Wood, Uralla’s Cricket Captain.
Cameron gave an engaging outline of Mackay’s batting feats followed by a tribute and a toast to “Sunny Jim”, to which Hugh Donaldson, great-nephew of “Sunny Jim”, responded. Bob Anderson then observed Grace, and the mood was very festive as the first course was served to a sold-out crowd.
Time then for our Guest Speaker, Malcolm Knox, to
present his very emotive speech, excerpts of which appear on page 2.
After dessert, Bob Anderson ex Cumberland Cricket Club) donned his cricket whites and cap to hand out signed (by Malcolm Knox) copies of a souvenir booklet
“SUNNY JIM MACKAY of Uralla . . . Best Batsman in the World”, to each and everyone present.
It was a superb night of cricket indulgence, thoroughly enjoyed by all the guests.