Following the return of the Dickens statue in 2011 and the 200th birthday celebration in 2012 it was decided to celebrate Dickens’ birthday each year in front of his statue proudly standing in Centennial Park.
Compared to the previous two events, the 201st birthday celebration, which took place on Thursday 7 February 2013, was a low-key event. It was neverthless attended by almost fifty people not all of whom were NSW Dickens Society members. The news of the event had spread thanks to an article which our past President Sandra Faulkner – back in Australia after moving to the UK – had sent to the SMH’s Column Eight.
There was a short celebration in front of the statue before we adjouned for lunch. Sandra Faulkner laid some geraniums (Dickens favourite flowers) at the statues feet. She then gave a run-down of the history of Dickens statue; how it was purchased by Sir Henry Parkes, later desecrated, lost, then found minus the head and finally repaired before once more taking pride of place on Dickens Drive. For those interesting in finding out more you can read the full story of the Dickens statue here at the Centennial Parklands blog.
This was followed by a reading from a poem Henry Lawson wrote about Dickens given by the Reverend Geoff Usher. Dr Helen Yarley drew the proceedings to a close by speaking about Dickens dislike of statues which she ascertained was due to a fear of being depicted as a caricature.
Leaving Mr Dickens to enjoy his geraniums, thirty six members and friends then adjourned to the Centennial Parklands Restaurant for lunch followed by a piece of birthday cake. Happy Birthday Charles Dickens!