have been like a second father to me since the far off
days of Sydney
1966. I hitchhiked to Araluen after Tim Higgins told
me a few students were gathering there with you. You
had no idea I was coming and my first sight of you there
(you thought I was Tim returning from Braidwood) was
as a ghostly figure at the gate, draped in a sheet,
ringing a bell. I was uninvited but truly welcomed and
soon I was seated by the fire with a glass of red, plunging
eagerly into deep conversation with Dick Synnott.
was the start of a new stage in my life. You have been
an opener of doors for so many including me. You helped
me leave home. You heard a couple of songs I had written
and encouraged me to have a go at writing some folk-hymns.
Over the next six weeks, I wrote fourteen songs including
“Fill My House”, which I always dedicate to you because
your house (“The Lodge”) was always full... people eating
your bread and drinking your wine (and whisky).
my long sojourn in England,
you visited us in Kettering
in 1978 and adopted Madge and our children immediately.
When we visited Australia
in 1979 you shared your home with us for a year and
many new doors were opened. I met Aboriginal people
for the first time, experienced Redfern, heard the challenge
of a new theology, met new friends - all of this becoming
seeds for songs like “The Man God Chose”. At the end
of that year you even raised our return fare to England
through a bold campaign of calling in unpaid royalties
for “Fill My House” etc from priests and parishes around
Your boldness of thought and greatness of heart have
always been inspiring.
we returned to Australia
and found our feet here and your generous support has
always been there. You have been a large and generous
presence in our lives, a true godfather. Thank
you Ted for all you have been for me and for us and
for the many who are smaller and poorer than us.
by Peter Kearney