Past connections prove a winner
Growing up in Guyra, Anthony Gaukroger attended the local school, played sport, and participated in many social activities. He also started his working life here, firstly at the abattoirs and later at the Bowling Club. Despite having left the town 17 years ago, he likes to keep in touch and it was this desire to reconnect with his past that led him to set up Blast from Guyra Past on facebook.
Now living in Kempsey, he got the idea from a page that operated there and decided to try something similar for Guyra. Initially, he expected that maybe 50 people would join and they could reminisce about old times. Five years later the group is still going strong, with membership now approaching 2000 - almost the same as the population.
While he doesn’t expect thanks, he was both surprised and pleased to get a ‘pat on the back’ on a recent visit for the work he puts in to maintaining the page.
“It’s not my page it is everyone’s page and a place for people to share memories and reconnect,” Anthony said.
“When people stop you in the street, you realise how much they appreciate the page and if I played a part in bringing back some memories that makes it worthwhile.”
“I have learnt through the page that Guyra roots are strong and even if someone left years ago, they still love to catch up with friends and remember things from their past.
“I also find out a lot of facts from the older generation, so it is a place we can all learn more about the town and some of the history. It’s not just Guyra it is the whole area and the little places that surround it that have their own history which we need to keep alive.”
“People knock small country towns but when the chips are down they know there is no better place to be, and having grown up there I know how that helps to shape the rest of your life.”
As the only admin of the group Anthony said that initially he recognised names for people who wanted to join the group, but as it has grown he has to be more careful in order to stop scammers joining. New members now have to complete a simple questionnaire when they join.
The success of the page lies in the connections made through sharing old photos and events. Anthony said that some of what he posts is from his own scrapbooks as well as old photos and newspapers. However, he also loves the fact that as the group has grown people are posting their own photos, which he encourages by having theme days like Flashback Friday and Sports Saturday. A recent flashback calling for wedding photos was really popular and in his own words ‘really went off’.
“It was great to see so many wedding photos and to see people commenting and sharing these happy memories,” he said. “This is what it is all about and I hope it continues for a long time and I am glad to have played a part in making this happen.”