STANDING DOWN: Brian Thom with the painting of a Gawler train outside the Old Spot Hotel circa 1890s, and his own painting of Gawler’s man with the dog (Briant Mahoney).Brian Thom was born in Gawler, was schooled there and lived in the town most of his life. Now, after 14-and-a-half interesting years on the Town of Gawler Council, he is retiring at the next election.
The passion the 69-year-old has for the history and heritage of Gawler is only surpassed by his love of working with the community.
When Mr Thom started on council local MP Tony Piccolo was mayor, who was followed by the first lady mayor, Helena Dawkins, then through Brian Sambell’s mayoral tenure, including several stints as deputy mayor.
“I retired at 55 and my wife (Bev) said, ‘you should run for the council elections in a couple of months’, and eventually I capitulated – as you do,” the popular deputy mayor said.
“It didn’t take long to quickly learn that one had to digest reams of info, but the level of intensity in 2000 compared to 2014 is intermediate high school compared to uni.
“There is greater attention to detail, which has really come to the fore in the past five years, with probably bigger picture issues to grapple with, like the transport management plan and the state government foisting ministerial DPAs on us, regarding Gawler East and the top of racecourse.”
Mr Thom worked on a number of sub committees, including infrastructure; corporate and community service; the signage committee until it disbanded; and currently is the chairman of Gawler 175th events. And since its inception, he has been Gawler’s board member on the Gawler River Flood Plain management authority, attending 78 of 80 possible meetings.
Some of the retiring councillor’s highlights include being involved in the Bruce Eastick North Para flood mitigation dam; putting a fourth deck on the three deck car park to cater for future Gawler expansion; and dissuading council to have a commercial area where lifestyle village now stands.
“There are always areas of concern in council, which are issues affecting community members,” he said.
“The placement of the multi goods area to where it is, establishment of the Gawler graffiti removal team, under lighting the Morton Bay Fig Trees along Julian Terrace and the new skate park, are some of the issues we have looked at. Others include eliminating the use of High Street for the passage of 10,000 vehicles a day, and advocating for the heritage buildings and walls of Gawler to be preserved for prosperity, as much as possible.”
Mr Thom is frustrated the pigeon problem in Gawler still exists, a toilet hasn’t been erected in the Fifth Street playground, and the state government hasn’t progressed the year 2000 memorandum of understanding for a north east bypass.
Probably closest to his heart is the fact the town’s heritage items are still in storage hidden away and not on display, which led to him forming the popular Gawler History Group.
“Three years ago, after increasingly becoming concerned that Gawler’s photographic history was being lost, or hidden, I felt it needed to be exposed for the world to see, so the Gawler History Team was formed,” Mr Thom said.
“It now has about 10,000 photos and articles, and I am delighted with how it has progressed.”
For 39 years Brian Thom worked for AMP, his last 20 years as a financial advisor and planner in Gawler and the Barossa Valley. He and his wife Bev have two sons (Richard and Michael) – brought up in Gawler – and two grandchildren, Stephanie and Nicholas.
And for the past 39 years, Mr Thom has lived in Daly Street, Gawler, just 200metres from where he was born.
A life member of the Apex Club, the Gawler lifer has been the curator of the St George’s Anglican Cemetery since 2000, is a member of the national trust of Gawler and the Gawler Community Gallery.
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