Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Annual Country Education Fund dinner held on Friday

More than 200 people flocked to the annual Country Education Fund dinner on Friday night, which boasted special guest Deniliquin’s own AFL legend, Leo Barry.

CASS SAVELLIS April 8, 2014 3:48am

ERCEF chairman Richard Fogarty, special guest Leo Barry, Country Education Foundation CEO Sarah Taylor and grant recipients Mollie Leetham and Adam Bodey.

Local footy fans were delighted to have Deniliquin’s own AFL legend, Leo Barry, as the special guest of the Edward River Country Education Fund dinner on Friday night.

More than 200 people attended the annual function at the Deniliquin RSL Club’s Dunlop Room, where guests enjoyed a sit-down dinner and a night of entertainment.

The highlight was Barry’s interview with master of ceremonies Sam Hall, where he talked about all aspects of his life – from growing up in Mayrung and Deniliquin to beginning his AFL career and life since retiring from the Sydney Swans.

The premiership hero talked about growing up in the rural settings of Mayrung, saying he especially ‘‘enjoyed the community and sporting spirit of Deniliquin’’.

Barry, who now works for financial management and advisory company The Bank of Merrill Lynch, also discussed life after football, saying that ‘‘although it’s the best job I’ll ever do, it’s a career that doesn’t last forever’’.

ERCEF chairman Richard Fogarty said he thought Barry was excellent speaker, appealing to everyone in the audience.

‘‘As well as speaking about football, he spoke of his career after that and I thought that showed the benefits of having education,’’ he said.

‘‘I think it was a bit of hometown catch up for him too, he knew former teachers in the crowd and many others.

‘‘And with Sam interviewing him it was like two old mates talking together. It created a nice, relaxed feel to the night.’’

Guests also heard from two grant recipients — Mollie Leetham and Adam Bodey — and were treated to a musical item by Deniliquin High School student Anna Bowie.

The night culminated with an auction of an autographed photo of Leo Barry’s famous Grand Final-winning mark and a second photo of the Sydney Swans team after their 2005 grand final win.

There was a total of 35 grant recipients for 2014 as a result of the local fund. These students are undertaking either university or TAFE studies, an apprenticeship or traineeship. They received a share of about $35,000 to contribute to their career pathways.

Mr Fogarty said overall this year’s dinner ‘‘was fantastic and financially very successful for the ERCEF’’.

‘‘It was a great night, we had principals from every local primary school and high school in the area and from some small schools too.

‘‘We are looking forward to next year and cannot wait to make it bigger and better.’’

The ERCEF is part of a wider Country Education Foundation, which raises funds to distribute to rural students. The money is allocated in the form of scholarships.

Funds for the scholarships are raised through fundraisers, as well as membership and donations.

Anyone wishing to support the ERCEF, or students wanting to know more about the fund, are encouraged to contact Mr Fogarty on 0407815641.

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