2012 SSPA Convention report
by Tony Munro
The 2012 Short Statured People of Australia annual convention returned to Sydney’s northern beaches in early October when approximately 100 members, family and friends converged on the Elanora Convention Centre, in Elanora Heights.
The SSPA’s flagship event was for the first time held in conjunction with the inaugural National Dwarf Awareness Month, to be held annually in October. It is aimed at increasing public knowledge of dwarfism and provide a platform for the accurate dissemination of information about dwarfism and portrayal of dwarves,
With government consent for National Dwarf Awareness Month coming through just before the convention, there was limited time to organise events – the most high profile was a well received segment on the popular television programme, The Project. The segment went into the home of SSPA secretary, Linda Henderson, where Linda and her husband, Pete were interviewed, and daughter Kirrily featured, where they spoke about various aspects of living with dwarfism.
SSPA co-founder & Council Member, Rose Hobbs, was also interviewed during a day at Dee Why Beach, while geneticist Prof. Ravi Savanrayan also dispelled some of the misconceptions of dwarfism during the segment. The day at Dee Why saw rough surf conditions causing the beach to be closed and a day at the beach and planned surf lessons were cancelled.
Although Dee Why was a wipeout, earlier in the week the convention gave visitors to Sydney a taste of its world famous harbour with a cruise to Shark Island. It was in this beautiful setting, for a couple of hours,, a picnic was held, folks eating, drinking (red cordial only I am assured) and lazing, the seriousness of the previous day’s Annual General Meeting increasingly a distant memory. Eventually,our intrepid crew made the return ferry journey and it was off to the tourist mecca of Darling Harbour.
Saturday night was the annual Dinner Dance, where ladies and gents alike were resplendent in their finest. This year’s Dinner Dance was more than a chance for ladies to frock up and gents to put on the proverbial Sunday best – we honoured those deemed to contributed significantly to dwarfism and/or the SSPA.
It was appropriate for the SSPA co-founder and current treasurer, Rose Hobbs, to bestow our current President, Meredith Tripp, with Life Membership of the Association. “Merry”, as she is known to most in the Association, achieved the accolade following numerous accomplishments, particularly on the sporting field, and tireless work for the SSPA, always representing the Association with distinction.
Robbie Paton deservedly joined Merry on the list of recipients of the McHugh-Henderson Award winners, when he was given the award for 2012. Robbie earned the award for “work for the SSPA, commitment to sport and for giving back to many communities through his outstanding fund-raising efforts.”
We now look forward the 2013 late September (dates to be confirmed) when Tasmania will play host to our national gathering. In the meantime, make sure you stay involved with your local State association – there’s usually an event of some sort not far away in most States.