THE Lennie Gwyther on Ginger Mick Statue is set to be unveiled at 2pm on Saturday, October 14 in Centenary Park, Leongatha.
The South Gippsland community has worked tirelessly in the past 18 months to raise money for a life-sized bronze statue of Lennie Gwyther sitting on his pony Ginger Mick.
The statue has been completed and will be unveiled by Lennie’s daughter, granddaughter and living siblings.
Some of Lennie’s relatives are travelling half way across the country to be present.
Not everyone knows the story of nine year old Lennie and his epic ride to the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 1932.
On the morning of February 3, 1932, Lennie Gwyther set out on his pony Ginger Mick from his farm home ‘Flers’ at Leongatha South to ride 1000km to Sydney to be present at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Neither weather nor bushfires dampened Lennie’s resolution to be present at the opening of what was then the longest single span bridge in the world.
Lennie’s parents, Captain Leo and Clare Gwyther, had allowed Lennie to make this monumental journey as a reward for his work running the family farm for some months when Leo was incapacitated due to a major work accident.
Lennie carried a letter from the Woorayl Shire President to the Lord Mayor of Sydney.
When passing through Canberra Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, himself a Tasmanian farmer, shook Lennie’s hand and wished him well.
News of boy and pony preceded them until all of Australia could read of their progress.
Even the London Times recorded the determination of Lennie to follow his dream.
Stirred by the courage of this nine year old lad, people were moved to come to roadsides to wave and wish him ‘Godspeed’.
Honoured by an invitation to partake in the official opening parade, Lennie must have wondered why all the fuss, being a quiet, retiring youngster.
Over $50,000 was raised to pay for the statue to be created and installed in Leongatha.
The Federal Government provided $11,500 from their Building Stronger Communities Projects fund, South Gippsland Shire Council added $10,000 from the Community Grants fund and the community through direct donations and fundraising events raised more than $30,000 needed to complete the project.
The Leongatha Chamber of Commerce provided project management and auspice and many other local groups and individuals contributed to the planning and fundraising aspects.
Former councillor and mayor Bob Newton championed the project from the beginning right through to arrival of the statue in Leongatha and members of the Gwyther family have been actively involved in helping bring this project to realisation from the start.