Two Remarkable Birthdays Bonded By the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Gold Coast Resident Celebrates Her 90th, The Bridge’s 83rd and An Extraordinary Connection to The Coathanger from its Summit

Today, Thursday 19th March 2015, sees the second of two significant birthdays celebrated within a week of each other: Our beloved Sydney Harbour Bridge turns 83, seven days after Beryl Ferrier (nee Gwyther) turned 90.

Beryl, a legally blind lady celebrating her 90th birthday, demonstrated that age is no barrier by journeying more than 1,000 kilometres from her home before climbing 1,000 steps to honour a remarkable family connection with the famous coathanger.

Beryl’s connection to the Bridge goes back 83 years, when her 9 year old brother Lennie Gwyther, the hero of two books, ‘Lennie’s Ride’ and ‘Lennie the Legend’, extraordinarily undertook the same 1,000 kilometre journey from Melbourne - by horseback over 33 days, to witness the opening ceremony of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Prior to the celebratory Climb with 26 friends and family, Beryl said, “I’m on top of the world, because in a few days’ time, I will be on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I’ve been in training for this moment and can’t wait to celebrate my 90th birthday with 26 friends and family, who’ve all journeyed from all over Australia and New Zealand”.

Her brother Lennie’s dream became a reality and his story a legend when in the middle of the Depression, he saved his family’s farm, ploughing 24 acres with four horses in place of his sick father, Captain Leo Gwyther; a humble Anzac veteran twice decorated for bravery at Gallipoli and The Somme.

Permission to ride was rewarded to the young aspiring engineer, fanatical about the Bridge’s construction by his father. Such was word-of-mouth as he travelled from town to town welcomed by all, that the shy country boy was invited by the Opening Ceremony Committee to join their celebrations and given a police escort due to the hordes of admirers who flocked to see him.

Beryl has also picked up many friends and admirers, some joining in her own 1,000 kilometre and 1,000 step journey from Melbourne to the summit of the Bridge for her 90th birthday celebration. These include Mary Small, author of ‘Lennie the Legend’.

Mary said, “The Gwythers are of tough stock and it’s an honour to be a part of the celebrations atop the Sydney Harbour Bridge. A real Australian character, Beryl volunteers at her local church and teaches French at the University of the Third Age in Coolangatta. Everywhere she goes, people notice Beryl. Just like her brother, she's a local legend.”