Margaret Harmer (MacLeod)

1950 Collegian


MLC, after the war, was not the wonderfully endowed school it is now but it was a place of warmth, happiness and eagerness to learn.

In my matriculation year my father was transferred to Melbourne and I found it so hard to start anew.

After completing a business course I became secretary to the general manager of The Sun newspaper and later to a Herald and Weekly Times editor.

I married Lindsay Harmer in 1954 and before I was 28 had three lovely children Rosalind, Wendy and Rhys.

Extreme sadness came into our lives in 1973 when Lindsay, Rhys, 11, and I were involved in a motor accident caused by a speeding, drink driver.

Our beautiful son was killed. It was a time of intense grief and difficulty.

We sought help, but in those days there was none to be found. We felt very alone and longed to meet a similarly bereaved friend with whom we could share our feelings.

We heard of 'The Compassionate Friends' (TCF) in the UK and USA, which offered help, understanding and information to bereaved parents. In June 1978 we started our own organisation from the lounge room of our home in Glen Waverley.

From the start it became a source of comfort for many where they could find soul mates for support.

We brought out TCF founder Rev. Dr Simon Stephens from the UK, and toured Australia. Groups started in all States and country towns we visited.

In 1981 I held a public meeting in Nedlands and the WA Compassionate Friends group was formed.

In 1982 we were able to set up the first Bereaved Parent Drop-In Centre in the world in Syndal, Victoria.

Lindsay was director and I was president and we often spoke publicly about how to help bereaved parents.

We linked up with overseas TCF groups and worked around the clock for 13 years until, in 1991, we were ready to pass the work on to others.

Our marriage of nearly 60 years has been a time of great joys and sorrow. We have seven grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

Does it sound strange to say this? I wouldn't want to be as I was before Rhys died… yet I would still dearly love to have him back.

On MLC: I happily returned for my 50-year reunion and it was one of the highlights of my life.