Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Drummond, Stanley Gillick (1884–1943)

by Bruce Mitchell

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Stanley Gillick Drummond (1884-1943), Methodist minister and founder of the Far West Children's Health Scheme, was born on 22 May 1884 at Attunga, New South Wales, elder son of James Drummond and his native-born wife Mary Jane, née Richardson. His father was born at Beechworth, Victoria, and was a saddler by trade; he and his wife taught in New South Wales public schools. Stanley was educated at various schools where his father taught, but was not a keen student and on leaving school became a junior clerk in the Department of Lands at Queanbeyan. After contracting pneumonia he followed medical advice and took up outdoor work as a carpenter's assistant.

Drummond suddenly decided to enter the Methodist ministry, studied at the Sydney Central Methodist Mission, and in late 1909 took charge of the Home Mission station at Bulahdelah. In his first year he was thrown from a sulky on to his hip and spent eighteen months in pain in an iron splint, moving with the aid of crutches. He eventually recovered but retained a slight limp. At Bowral on 13 November 1911, describing himself as an artist, he married 35-year-old Lucy Doust, who had been a mission sister at the Central Methodist Mission.

Admitted to the ministry, Drummond was in charge of the Rylstone circuit (1914-18), Canowindra (1919-22) and Yass (1923). In April next year he became superintendent of the Far West Mission based at Cobar and travelled extensively with his wife in the heat and dust of the area. Recuperating on Manly Beach from the removal of his gall bladder, he had on 6 December what he described as an inspiration: 'to bring from the Far West to the seaside, children of the kind who would otherwise never see the sea during their childhood'. The Drummonds returned to Cobar, and in January 1925 brought to Sydney a party of 58 children and 6 mothers, whereupon Drummond returned to organize a second group of 128. The speed and enthusiasm with which he acted were typical—details were left to others with resulting financial troubles and chaotic arrangements. Drummond also learned that many children needed not so much a seaside holiday as medical, surgical and dental attention, and the original idea was changed to become the Far West Children's Health Scheme.

In 1926 he enlisted the co-operation of teachers, clergy and police to select children for the health scheme, and also secured the enthusiastic help of the member for Bourke, M. A. Davidson. In 1927 Drummond's health deteriorated and he chose to abandon his Church position and risk financial insecurity, which was partly relieved by £250 damages he received for being hit by a car in 1928. The scheme expanded after 1930; trains and planes were used by travelling clinics and sisters in the west. In 1933 he was appointed M.B.E., and in July published in Health his account of the inspiration and innovations of the operation. With the addition of public funds the Drummond Far West Home was opened at Manly in 1935. In 1936 Drummond suffered a severe heart attack and increasing deafness. He died of cancer on 24 April 1943 and was cremated with Methodist forms; his wife had died on 18 December 1942.

Drummond was an inspired man from that moment on Manly Beach in 1924 and he did not spare himself, his devoted wife or other supporters in pursuing the dream of helping far west children. He was a sincere idealist whose ideas captured the enthusiasm of others; leading figures in education, the railways, and the medical profession co-operated willingly; valuable publicity and other help was obtained from Drummond's contacts with the Sydney Morning Herald and such leading citizens as the governor Sir Philip Game and his wife. Drummond's inspiration seemed to have had little of a directly religious nature in it—he rarely talked of religion and insisted that the scheme was non-sectarian. He was spurred by his own pain from the hip injury, his love of children combined with disappointment at having none of his own, and his acquaintance with difficulties of life in the outback.

Select Bibliography

  • M. Maclean, Drummond of the Far West (Syd, 1947)
  • P. Wearn, The Magic Shoulder (Syd, 1966)
  • Far West Children's Health Scheme (Syd), Annual Report, 1936-40
  • private information.

Citation details

Bruce Mitchell, 'Drummond, Stanley Gillick (1884–1943)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/drummond-stanley-gillick-6020/text10287, published in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 19 April 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

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