Heather Harrison (1958)

A Handful of Home

Heather Harrison spent 25 years as the College Nurse at Fairholme. Originally from Aramac, and a Boarder at Fairholme in the 50s, she returned to the region with Principal, Dr Linda Evans and Head of Boarding, Margie Dunne, to visit future families and Old Girls.

‘An Aramac friend once told me that just before leaving home to return to Boarding School, she would go outside and fill one of her pockets with dirt. Dirt from home to take back to school with her. Her home memories in her pocket.’

Heather Harrison’s own pockets are now filled with many memories, after recently travelling out to her old stomping ground, and sharing a cuppa with the many Fairholme Old Girls dotted around Western Queensland.

‘We flew from Brisbane to Longreach in a Dash 8 and I must say, the whole country looks so very dry.’

Between Longreach, Blackall and Winton, Sister Harrison heard many stories of courageous women; Fairholme women who’ve been dealt a rough hand, but have chosen not to give up, and instead, to dig in.

‘Some have barely seen the back of drought. Others are widowed, running an entire station on their own and doing it successfully,’ says Heather.

As the College Nurse, Heather Harrison believes she became a Grandmother figure to many, especially the Boarders who were so far from home.

‘I think the School Nurse has a good position, where she’s not having to say “turn off that laptop, lights out, stop that noise”. You know, I guess I was there more as a comfort to them.’

As the College Nurse, Sister Harrison says she worked incredibly long hours, and was on call 24/7.

But at each stop out West, it seems those hours counted for the Boarders who were once in her care.

At each stop, Sister Harrison was the travelling Fairholme celebrity.

‘I suppose I didn’t realise my presence had been so important to them. It was lovely to see how many wanted to catch up with me.’

Fairholme College hits the road again next term, visiting our current and previous families, along with future students.

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