About the Patrons: Clara Annie Friday and Harry Grosvenor Friday

Harry was born on the family property ‘Arcadia’ at Barwite on 26 November 1909, the sixth child of nine to Francis Henry and Eva Jane Friday. Beginning his education at Barwite Primary School, he went on to Mansfield Agricultural High School, which eventually closed down, finally completing his studies at Sale High School, where his uncle was the headmaster.

Harry had a real instinct for knowing how mechanical things worked, and he started work as a mechanic at Buckland’s Garage with his brother Jim. Living at the family farm, Harry rode a motorbike and worked across the shire as far as Woods Point. He loved automobiles, and for a time owned a Cord, a very rare vehicle in Australia.

It was said that the people in Tolmie set their clocks by the noise from Harry’s motorbike as he went to work in the mornings. He loved cats and a familiar sight was Harry with this cat on his motorbike. His easy style of dealing with people made him a favourite with the customers at Buckland’s. At one time he was badly burnt after a fire at the garage, but Fred Buckland insisted he come back to work “just to sit there and talk to the customers”.

Harry met Clare Pooley, a nurse at Gippsland Base Hospital, via his sister Vere, who nursed the seriously ill Clare. Both Vera and Clare got on very well, and Vere suggested to Clare that she recuperate at ‘Arcadia’, at Barwite. Harry was smitten with Clare, and he used to ride from Barwite to Sale to visit her on his motorbike.

In 1935, Harry and Clare married and the couple moved into a house that Harry built in Highett Street, Mansfield, which is now the Vet Practice. With their move to Mansfield, so began a lifetime of involvement in community activities. Clare was heavily involved with the CWA in Mansfield, holding offices of President, Vice President, Secretary and Group President. She was instrumental in getting the CWA hall in High Street built, and was the President of the Building Fund, established in 1954. She also served on the Mansfield Higher Elementary School Mothers Club for a period of eight years, was awarded the Life Governorship of the Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind, reformed the Mansfield Masonic Lodge Ladies Auxiliary, assisted the Red Cross and actively participated in St John’s Ladies Guild.

Meanwhile Harry was actively involved with the Mansfield Masonic Lodge and St Johns Anglican Church. He designed the current hall for the CWA in High Street. He was an ardent cricketer and worked with the bush fire brigade.

War broke out, and both Harry and his brother Jim went to work at Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation at Fishermen’s bend in Melbourne. Their main job was repairing U.S. made planes and Harry was the overseer of the engine reconditioning plant.

After the war, the couple returned to Mansfield to manage the family farm, ‘Arcadia’, as his father was suffering from dementia and needed help.

Fred Buckland came to see him, and asked him if he would resume his old position at Buckland’s Garage. Harry declined and recommended a good person he knew from Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation. That person was Jack Martin, Jack and his family went on to start Martin’s Garage.

As an innovator Harry decided the days of four legged horse power were over and convinced his brothers to buy a tractor. Over the next twenty years farming was his occupation. Along with brother Frank, he was instrumental in early development of the commercial grass seed industry in the Mansfield District.

After their retirement from the farm, Clare and Harry enjoyed a number of overseas and interstate holidays, including the United Kingdom where they visited the Island of Skye to retrace Clare’s family history. Other places included Europe, Alaska, Canada, Hong Kong and Japan as well as trips to South Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland,

Clare Friday passed away on 19 May 1994 at the age of 89.

Harry Friday passed away on 4 April 2006, at the age of 96.