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Phil Rackett


“Phil Rackett, John Errey and Rip Shield each contributed 30 years of generous service and support to the Sunshine Association of Tasmania. As Members of Lions, Phil and John worked tirelessly to help keep the Sunshine Holiday Centre open and functioning. When it eventually closed and was sold to the Clarence Council in 1985, Phil, John and Rip helped to relaunch the Sunshine Association in its current form in 1992 as three regional committees operating in the South, North and Northwest. The Sunshine Association owes a great debt of gratitude to Phil, John, Rip and other Lions members who helped to keep the Sunshine vision alive. In recognition, Phil, John , Rip and Mrs Phyl Batchelor were  made Honorary Life Members of the Sunshine Association of Tasmania.


Phil Rackett was a warm, generous and humorous man who served as President and Chairman of the southern committee for many years. He also acted as the Scholarships Officer after handing on the role of Chairman. We have included the text below as a tribute to Phil Rackett. It was mostly written by Phil and demonstrates his warmth and humour as well as dedication to the Lions and Sunshine Association. We miss Phil very much. He was a fine gentleman and Tasmanian.


In Phil Rackett's own words:


'For a number of years I had driven down Clarence Street past the Sunshine Home, and taken absolutely no notice of the building, until one Wednesday night in 1976. The following details are given with a mind that has a tendency to forget things, so it is a case of E&OE.


In 1976, the Lions Club of Clarence was faced with a project which covered  reopening the dormant Sunshine home for a period of 3 years, following which the existing committee could regain the operation as a going concern.


The proposal put to the club, was to fund the costs involved in the running of the Sunshine Home estimated at $28,000 per year, provide a matron, a medical officer to examine the children on arrival, and then transport for the children from their home to the Sunshine Home.


This proposal was not a fait accompli with some members opposed to having to raise funds over a lengthy period. However, the project was agreed to and so fundraising commenced.


The main income was through a weekly bingo night, initially using a leather bag containing balls with numbers and finally progressed to the use of an electronic screen. A number of the regular players became friends, but it doesn’t seem like 30 years since we called out  “ 2 fat ladies, 88”.


After a period extending past the initial 3 years, it was put to the Lions Cub to increase the numbers utilising the centre, by allowing disabled persons to be included. This was immediately vetoed by the Lions Club members as the increased costs were estimated at about $107,000 per year, plus the associated upgrading of the facilities to enable wheel chair usage.


In 1981. the centre was again dormant and the committee met and discussed reopening it, but decided that was not a financially viable option.  Matron Shirley Inman and her husband, Jack, continued to live on site as caretakers until 1983.


In 1985, The Clarence City Council bought the 3 ha land and buildings for $450,000.  The Howrah Sunshine Recreation Centre opened on site in 1988, the property having been redeveloped with State and Council funds.The decision to sell the land and buildings would have been a Sunshine Association decision, but Clarence Lions were a guiding force and strong element in the direction and progress of Sunshine. Lions members held most of the key positions in Sunshine, e.g. Rance Barber, John Errey, Phil Rackett and earlier, Don Dargaville and Reg Dell.


Administration of Sunshine Association funds passed to the Tasmanian Lions Foundation Inc. in 1993 and the three regional committees were formed then to continue Sunshine work. The involvement of the TLF was promoted by Clarence Lions Club members, particularly Rance Barber. Reasons given included scale for investments and continuity of management resources.'


( Phil Rackett’s notes concluded in 1981. Rip Shield provided the ongoing historical details and names of Lions members involved. )

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