One of the most popular articles from last year’s Ut Prosim magazine featured two alumnae, sisters, Audrey and Daphne Raymond. We recently caught up with Daphne to see how she was faring.
Daphne Raymond (1948PY) was 10 years old and her sister Audrey Raymond (1952PY) was six years old when they started at Wenona as boarders. They were both sent to board at the School when their parents were posted overseas, after her father was appointed as Professor of Surgery at Rangoon University in Burma (now Myanmar). Both have fond memories of their time at the Boarding House and of Miss Ralston in particular, who was the Headmistress at the time.
Daphne said, “Miss Ralston was like a mother to us girls whose parents were abroad, but that didn’t prevent her from giving us terrible reports about our behavior… I was a very naughty child and got terrible reports.” She remembers friends of her parents – one a very distinguished judge and the other an army colonel – calling in to School to take the two sisters out for lunch, but that one of them, to Miss Ralston’s horror, was wearing suede shoes! She also recalls the way Miss Ralston treated a fellow boarder who was prone to tantrums. “Miss Ralston hesitatingly went and got a bucket of cold water and hurled it over the girl, which had the desired effect!”
Audrey has fond memories of story time in the Assembly Hall and the hilarity of Boarding House dinners, particularly when a burnt chop went flying off her plate and landed on Miss Ralston’s. “Miss Ralston innocently devoured my chop and left me starving, much to the stifled giggles of all the girls at the table.”
When Daphne and Audrey graduated from Wenona, they travelled extensively. Audrey went to London to study dancing, before working for the English Foreign Office in Singapore and Geneva, and going to work in Senegal, West Africa. Meanwhile, Daphne learnt French at the Sorbonne, hitchhiked around Europe and then a chance meeting with a Wenonian in London led to a job with MI6 in Japan, where she met her husband. Together they worked in Guinea in West Africa, Dakar, Finland and Germany, before finishing up in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo). When her marriage ended, Audrey moved to Provence where she lived with a charming Frenchman called Andre for 15 years. “In 2017, he ran off with another woman! Another shock, especially as he was 89 and she was 86!” This prompted Daphne to return to Australia and relocate to the Sunshine Coast to live near Audrey and her dog Bertie, who can do 36 tricks, including saying his prayers before he goes to bed and fetching her a tissue when she sneezes.
Since the article was published in Ut Prosim magazine, Daphne has reconnected with two of her old school friends, Mrs Helen Bleeker (Hall, 1947py) and Mrs Jane Sutro (Wardlaw, 1948py). Daphne hadn’t seen Helen for nearly 75 years, and yet they now live less than 10km from each other – a mere 11-minute drive! Helen was originally from a cattle station in Ingham, near Townsville where she returned after boarding at Wenona. She then met a Dutchman at a country dance, married him and travelled to Holland for a holiday, but ended up living there for 26 years, before returning to Australia. Daphne and Helen are delighted to be back in touch with one another and have enjoyed reminiscing about their Wenona days.
Mrs Jane Sutro (Wardlaw, 1948py) also contacted Daphne after reading the Ut Prosim article. Jane was a day girl at Wenona and lived – very conveniently – in Walker Street, North Sydney. After leaving school, Jane travelled to London, where she bumped into Daphne in Piccadilly. It was she who suggested to Daphne that she join the British Foreign Service, and that there were positions available in Japan, thus changing the course of Daphne’s life. Daphne was also Jane’s bridesmaid at her wedding in Chelsea. Jane still lives in the UK in a converted vicarage in Buckinghamshire.
It was fantastic to talk to Daphne and it was great to hear that she has reconnected with her old schoolfriends after all this time. You can read the full article in Ut Prosim magazine on the Publications page of our website.