22 May 2015

Peg Mantle's Legacy of Service

Marjorie Lindenmayer with Peg Mantle's collection of programs and newscuttings

Edwina  "Peg" Mantle was a percussionist, and involved in a number of Canberra's musical organisations.

This collection of programs for the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and is predecessor body the Canberra Orchestral Society was recently donated by Marjorie Lindenmayer (pictured) on behalf of her friend Robyn Hughes.  Marjorie has been active in the Canberra music scene since 1969, mostly associated with the Canberra Boys' Choir and the Oriana Chorale, and as an accompanist for other performing arts groups.

Robyn was responsible for dealing with some of Mrs Mantle's personal collections following her death in 2002.  As is the case with donations of this kind, those responsible for managing the effects of  deceased people know it may be of interest to others and look for a good home.  In this case, Robyn contacted Marjorie who contacted the ACT Heritage Library.  The Library is delighted to be a good home for Peg's collection, which will be added to our holdings of programs for the Canberra Symphony Orchestra and the Canberra Orchestral Society.

We are also delighted to learn more about a wonderful woman who spent so much of her life in the service of others.

Born Edwina Geraldine Pretty in Perth in 1908, she was always known as Peggy or Peg.  She was educated at Perth College and studied music with Harry Vowles, becoming a licentiate in 1930.  She played the piano from the age of 8 but the tympany was her first love.  She played tympany and the full range of percusson instruments in the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra in Perth from 1932 until she moved to Sydey with her family in the late 1930s.

Peg married Alfred Norman Mantle (also of Perth) before he embarked with the 2/4th Machine Gun Battalion of the Australian Army.  Alfred became a prisoner of war and died on the Thai -Burma Railway in January 1944.  Peg never remarried.

Peg was transferred to the communications section of  Department of External Affairs in Canberra in April 1947 after serving in the Department of the Navy in Sydney from February 1942.  She retired in 1973.

Her involvement with community service began at age 17.  She has assisted with charity button days, Violet Day (free kindergartens), Poppy Day, Tin Hat Day, Cancer appeals, Heart Foundation appeals, Blind Society appeals and working for the Red Cross Canteen Service at the Royal Perth Hospital.

She was a life member of the Women's Volunteer Naval Reserve and the Institute of International Affairs, after serving for 14 years on its council, 12 of them as honorary secretary;  and was active in  the War Widows Guild, the Scouting movement, Toc H, Meals on Wheels, the Canberra and District Historical Society, the National Trust, the Australasian Women's Pioneers, the Heritage Society, Folio Society (London); the Royal Overseas League and the Channel Islands Association.  Peg's sporting pursuits included archery, skiing and lawn bowls and helped build the YMCA and Alpine Ski Club chalets.

After retiring from the Public Service she learnt Braille and mastered the Perkins Brailler machine on which she produced the quarterly Braille magazine for the ACT.

As a musician, peg Joined the Canberra Orchestral Society in 1948 as a tympanist and percussionist, and became a life member of its successor body, the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.
The Children's Orchestra began in 1962.  Peg tutored the percussion section of the now Canberra Youth Orchestra until retiring in 1985.  The CYO's senior strings orchestra was named The Peg Mantle Orchestra in 1982 and continues as the Peg Mantle Strings.

Peg also played for the Canberra Philharmonic Society and the Opera Society and contributed to the Canberra Repertory Society both on and off stage from her first weeks in Canberra. As a campanologist, she rang the bells at St John's Church in Reid for many services and weddings over the years.

A woman of intelligence, talent, community concern and energy, she was described in an 1994 Canberra Times article as "a feisty lady, not a sweet little old thing and has loads of character and personality".

Peg Mantle in the Canberra Times, 16 January 1982