Supporting Vinnies through verse

St William's Primary School
Noel Stallard with bush poetry students (back from left) Bridget Locke, Lauren
Gates, Holly Murfett, (second row) Amelia Bicknell, Katie Walker, Sameera
Prasa, Skye Webster, John Kehoe, Sophie Kirn, (bottom row) Amelia
Cruickshank and Hannah Kirn

THE next generation of Australia's bush poets will “support the battlers in our society" when they perform at a Verse for Vinnies presentation at St William's School, Grovely.

Started by Brisbane-based entertainer and bush poet Noel Stallard, Verse for Vinnies aims to keep bush poetry alive in younger Australians.

Noel and his wife, Ann Stallard, have raised more than $88,500 for the Grovely St Vincent de Paul conference through their Verse for Vinnies concerts.

Now in its seventh year, the pair run six concerts each year to showcase professional Australian poets and fundraise for Vinnies' vital work in Brisbane's north-west.

For the past three years Noel has also featured performances by 13 students from Catholic and state schools across Brisbane as part of the concerts.

Mr Stallard said he chose the young poets through a school-based recital competition.

“Schools give people with an academic ability the opportunity to demonstrate their skills, but I'm not sure we always give those people who can entertain or dramatically present the (same) opportunity," Mr Stallard said.

“What I'm doing with the young people in schools is giving those people who have a dramatic talent the opportunity to demonstrate that."

This year the group of 13 primary school students will perform at a public show at St William's Mary MacKillop Centre in Grovely.

Mr Stallard said he hoped to raise at least $3000 at the next concert.

“It's a win-win situation," he said.

“A win for the patrons where they get an afternoon of entertainment and a win for Vinnies and giving people the opportunity to support their good works.

“It's giving people the opportunity to be generous, to support the battlers in our society."

Mr Stallard, who was a teacher for 35 years, left when he heard a poem written by New South Wales priest Monsignor Patrick Hartigan, who wrote under the pseudonym of John O'Brien.

Mr Stallard has spent the past 25 years promoting Fr Hartigan's poetry in classrooms and concerts around Australia.

“Fr Hartigan had something Lawson, CJ Dennis and other pioneering poets didn't capture," Mr Stallard said.

“He captured the Irish pioneering way of life and captured characters, I suppose, authentic bush characters," he said.

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