WHEN Jack and Thea Fleming decided to move from South Africa to Australia there was only going to be one destination.
With a daughter and grandchildren living in Singleton, Singleton was always going to be their new place of residence.
After they arrived here in 1997, both quickly became involved in the community but it was Thea who was recently surprised after she was inducted into the Wambo Coal Hall of Fame.
The award was largely in recognition of her willingness to share her love and talent for art with anyone, from the very young to those who live with a disability.
Thea was an accomplished artist in South Africa and was a member of the Water Colour Society, the Pastel Society of South Africa, Brush and Chisel Society and the Miniature Art Society of South Africa.
Once she and Jack had unpacked their suitcases Thea immediately involved herself with the art community on a voluntary basis.
She exhibited at the Singleton Art Prize run by the Rotary Club of Singleton on Hunter and has assisted with the hanging of the paintings in each show since 1997.
She, together with fellow artist, Trish Patterson have been colourfully referred to over the years as the ‘serial hangers’ for their long term involvement in what is a specialist and time consuming task.
Thea became involved with teaching art on a voluntary basis at Singleton Public School providing a weekly session of art lessons to all the junior school students. She developed her own program introducing them to the works of old masters and other famous artists.
Examples include the Leonardo da Vinci lesson when students emulated the famous artist by pinning their art paper under their desk and lying on their backs to paint.
Thea was co-opted onto the art committee of the Singleton Parents Committee of the school which for many years organised a very successful show. She arranged for visiting artists to hold workshops at the shows in addition to participating herself.
Thea used her contacts at the Singleton Masonic Lodge to arrange for the donation of a digital camera for Singleton Public School Support Unit for the use of staff when teaching.
For five years, she also voluntarily taught art on a weekly basis at Hunter Valley Grammar School.
When the Kosovo refugees were living in Singleton in 1999 at the Lone Pine Barracks, Thea volunteered to assist the local Red Cross branch and organised weekly remedial art classes for the duration of their stay.
In 2001, Thea was asked to assist at Witmore Enterprises as a volunteer teaching art to clients.
She continues to do so, attending every Tuesday morning for the past 12 years.
It is a role she continues to do and one she finds great satisfaction from.
Thea is an active member of the Singleton Tidy Towns Committee and became involved in the Adopt-a-Spot program in 1998.
She still participates on a regular basis and often tells the story of a man who asked her what she was doing while gathering litter in George Street.
“I told him I was doing community service and he thought I was paying penance for a crime and asked me what I was ‘in’ for,” Thea said.
“I told him murder and he ran like the wind,” Thea laughed.
She partnered with Singleton Public Library to provide several workshops during the Singleton Arts Festival, during which she donated her time.
She also supports her husband, Jack, who is a member of the Lions Club of Singleton, helping with the local Driver Reviver Scheme, Lions Book Fair, raffles and catering.
Thea has donated many paintings to not-for-profit organisations throughout Singleton that have been offered as prizes or auctioned and have raised thousands of dollars for charity.
Thea was overwhelmed to be named Singleton’s Citizen of the Year in 2003 and this latest accolade came as an equal surprise but at the same time, so very much deserved.
MUCH DESERVED: Wambo Coal Hall general manager Peter Baker, hall of fame inductee Thea Fleming and Mayor John Martin at the Wambo Coal Hall of Fame presentation.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.