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Hedditch, Mabel Emily (1897–1966)

by Gwen Bennett

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

Mabel Emily Hedditch (1897-1966), mayor, was born on 11 December 1897 at Hambrook, Gloucestershire, England, daughter of Alfred William Flux, farmer, and his wife Emily, née Hill. Educated at Colston's Girls School, Bristol, she studied cheesemaking at a country dairy school in 1914.

During World War I, when her three brothers enlisted (two were killed), Mabel ran the family farm and met Norman Samuel Forward Hedditch (d.1954) who, after serving in France with the Australian Imperial Force, had been assigned to farm-work in England. She emigrated to Victoria in 1921 and they were married on 15 April at St Stephen's Anglican Church, Richmond, Melbourne. They settled on the Hedditch family farm at Cape Bridgewater, near Portland, where they raised seven children and became the fifth generation of the family to run the local post office. Norman was also an estate agent and representative for Goldsbrough Mort & Co. Ltd. His brother Harold Read Hedditch (1893-1974), a member of the Country Party, was to represent Port Fairy and Glenelg (1943-45) and Portland (1947-50) in the Legislative Assembly.

Mrs Hedditch entered into community life with zeal. A foundation member of the Portland branch of the Country Women's Association of Victoria (group president 1947-49, central vice-president 1951, State president 1953-55), she soon gained an insight into the problems of the country women of Victoria. The Melbourne Herald described her as one 'who knows and loves the land, the people who live on it, the things that grow in it'. A 'biggish' woman, 'with a bright, happy face, and wavy, light brown hair', she was 'blessed with abundant energy and very good health'. She served on the Portland Town Council in 1949-64 and was mayor in 1956-60, a period of rapid progress.

As treasurer of the town's infant welfare centre, Hedditch saw its new building erected. She directed the Home Help Service, worked for Meals on Wheels, buttered hundreds of scones and sandwiches, and was president of the Old Folks Welfare Committee and an energetic secretary of the Lewis Court Homes for the Aged. In 1954 she was made a justice of the peace and in 1960 she was appointed O.B.E. Survived by her two daughters and four of her five sons, she died of myocardial infarction on 6 January 1966 at her Portland home and was buried in Bridgewater cemetery. Later that month it was announced that she had been granted a citizenship award as Portland's most outstanding woman for 1965.

Select Bibliography

  • Australian Municipal Journal, 45, no 768, Feb 1966
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 7 Sept 1949
  • Herald (Melbourne), 29 May 1954, 18, 22 Sept 1956
  • Age (Melbourne), 26 Oct 1954
  • Portland Observer, 7, 28 Jan 1966
  • Rainbow News, 27 July 1971
  • family papers (privately held).

Citation details

Gwen Bennett, 'Hedditch, Mabel Emily (1897–1966)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/hedditch-mabel-emily-10475/text18581, published first in hardcopy 1996, accessed online 23 September 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 14, (MUP), 1996

View the front pages for Volume 14

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