News & Events

Cathy reflects on OCAV’s woman of influence

April 9, 2019

Lucy Coppin, the daughter of OCAV founder George Coppin, was a formidable woman. There are facts and anecdotes that paint a picture of a woman who successfully carried on many of her father’s endeavours, including the Old Colonists’ Association of Victoria.

Born in 1873 Lucy was a woman of means, determination and compassion and the Rushall Park village benefited from each of these characteristics. She grew up, not in the shadow of her famous father who was an actor, entrepreneur, politician and philanthropist, but by his side.

Stories about Lucy reveal a woman, who was fearless, but also a woman comfortable conforming to social mores and challenging them at the same time. As a teenager she dived, fully dressed, from the Sorrento jetty, going to the rescue of her friend Ruby Millar, who had been dragged into tidal water by a shark snared in her fishing line. Sorrento was where the Coppins spent a great deal of time at their lovely seaside home, The Anchorage.

Lucy always had a great interest in the OCAV and she joined the Council’s all male ranks in 1934, despite stiff opposition. Lucy wasn’t easily deterred from something she was interested in and in 1937 she was re-elected, along with Council newcomer Miss Annie Todd. The women faced a barrage of opposition, but also garnered admiration and support from unexpected quarters.

The Anchorage was a society landmark for many thespians and people of means who were entertained there by the Coppins. Descendant Cathy McCullough, who was born a year after Lucy’s death in 1960, recalls family stories of the high teas Lucy hosted.

“My mother Joan told me about going there as a child and her great-aunt Lucy ordering afternoon tea. The servants, dressed in formal outfits and hats, would wheel in the auto-trays full of incredible cakes,” Cathy said.

But the hospitality and largesse were not restricted to just family and peers. Lucy entertained the Old Colonists every year with a lunch or afternoon tea at The Anchorage.  The visitors arrived by steamer, were given lunch at one of the hotels, taken on the tram to the back beach and entertained by Lucy for afternoon tea, before returning to Melbourne on a steamer at the end of the day.  These visits continued up until World War 11.

Lucy was proud of her father’s vision in forming the Old Colonists and in 1928 she opened a cottage at Rushall Park erected ‘in grateful memory of George Selth Coppin by the Old Colonist Association of Victoria’.  Cathy McCullough, who visited the village for the first time in recent years, shares Lucy’s pride in OCAV. But she also admires what Lucy did to nurture her father’s legacy.

“It’s great to know that Lucy had such an impact and to this day the OCAV is providing care and housing for older Victorians,” Cathy said.

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