Marion is a very easy person to like. A woman of integrity: modest, friendly, helpful, supportive, non-judgemental, efficient and always ready to walk the extra mile. She has fulfilled her role at the Tas Writers Centre fathoms deeper and stratospheres higher than her original brief and in our view, gone the extra hundred thousand miles - and is still going, even after her resignation!
When she asked me 10 years ago for a reference to support her application for a position with the TWC - I was very happy to give her one - what I'd seen of her was pretty impressive - and I didn't know the half of it, at that stage.
From her unassuming manner you'd never guess what a skilled and brilliant worker Marion is: never one to blow her own trumpet she just gets things done, quickly and quietly, solves problems, supports writers, smoothes away difficulties and gets through a formidable load of tasks with apparent ease. She may be paddling away madly under the surface but she'll still make time to chat about a project, guide you through tricky processes, supply information, put out a newsletter, make a venue comfortable and welcoming, see to members' needs - and all this with unfailing courtesy, never betraying impatience or making you feel you are taking up her valuable time.
Almost a fixture at every TWC event is Marion's smiling face and pleasant manner, putting people at ease and getting the job done, oiling the wheels - and even putting the wheels back on when they fall off. A true service giver. And her service, as the cliché has it, is given with a smile.
Has she always been like this, I asked Megan once, and Megan replied that from early childhood Marion has had a sunny nature. You always feel great after a chat with her - yep, the sun comes out and you go on your way feeling that much better.
Our good fortune is to have had Marion's services at TWC for a decade, and our sorrow is that her last few months at TWC were full of such horrible stress and trauma that she found it necessary to resign in order to save her sanity. I might add that we have asked her to reconsider that decision once the Centre becomes viable again, and she has agreed to do so, in principle. Also by any ethical standards she is entitled to a proportion of her long service leave, after nearly ten years. The new board is fully aware of this and it is our hope that this situation may be rectified.
Marion supported the past director admirably, especially as things got more and more difficult, hung in there to make sure the annual report correctly documented TWC's great achievements and doggedly fulfilled her responsibilities in what had become a very uncomfortable working environment.
Our deep thanks and profound good wishes go with you, Marion. Have a good holiday and after that, please sail back our way and STICK AROUND. You are such a valued member of the Tasmanian reading and writing community. And so say all of us!
Terry Whitebeach has been teaching creative writing for over three decades in schools, tertiary institutions and communities in all states of Australia and in the USA. Her published work includes poetry, novels, biography, children’s picture books, radio plays, essays and reviews. She has a BA in English Literature and Philosophy, MA in English Literature and Creative Writing and PhD in History – Biography. Terry has edited a number of collections of writing and is currently a mentor for the Australian Society of Authors and a manuscript assessor and workshop facilitator for the Tasmanian Writers’ Centre.