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SUTHERLAND, Thomas Remington (1937-)

SUTHERLAND, Thomas Remington (1937-)

Tom Sutherland (back centre), Father Gabriel and helpers at Trippaadam, India.

Tom Sutherland (back centre), Father Gabriel,
and helpers at Trippaadam, India.

‘A Saint passed us by' was the heading used in the 'Church and Nation' when writing about Tom Sutherland, who in 1990 had been in India for fifteen years helping the sick and poor.

In 1990, Ad Astra reported as follows: ‘Tom was interested in the under privileged from the time he was a schoolboy. After graduating he taught at Frankston Tech and later was part time on the staff of RMIT, but he spent all his spare time helping down and outs of all ages. In 1975, he went to Calcutta where he worked for a year in the house for the dying and destitute that was established by Mother Theresa. He then went to southern India to visit Father Gabriel who had initially established a leprosy clinic at Kerala, in the most densely populated and highest unemployment area of India. Tom has worked with Father Gabriel's community of Trippaadam ever since. Their aim was to help the poorest families but the medical work was still important; 100,000 people have been treated and some 200-300 still came daily. They also helped in the hospitals and care for the alone, the homeless and the unemployed. They train young people in cottage industries such as screen printing, leaf painting for cards, weaving, carving coconut shells, making thread bracelets and incense sticks. Some 300 young people now earn a living from their crafts, mostly young women. It has been said that to increase the money available to the wife in a poor family is the surest way to improve the health and nutrition of the family. It was reported that with money raised in 1990 when Tom was in Melbourne, they have been able to accommodate 10-12 more homeless people' .

Tom Sutherland

Tom Sutherland

Eventually, Tom was to found a charity known as The Banyan Tree in Nedumangad, Kerala, South India which has operated since the year 2000. The charity is funded by two UK charities, The Friends of the Banyan Tree and Health Help International (HHI). It assists extremely poor and disadvantaged families, a high proportion of whom are Dalit (the oppressed), a group which has few rights, high rates of illiteracy and low access to government services.

Tom Sutherland, OGC 1950, was the son of Rev William Fraser and Mary Leeson nee Thorn and first attended Terang Higher Elementary School before being educated at Geelong College from 1952 to 1955. In 1955, he was a member of the Music Committee and House of Guilds Council (Model aeroplanes), a Mackie House monitor, a cadet corps sergeant; an editor of Pegasus; Secretary of the College PFA and a scholarship winner.

Thomas Remington Sutherland was inducted into the Old Geelong Collegians' Association (OGCA) Notables Gallery at Geelong College in 2011.

His brothers, James Fraser Sutherland (1933-1952), Dr Peter William Sutherland (1935-2017), and David Sutherland were also educated at Geelong College.

Sources: Ad Astra December 1990 p 16; Ad Astra December 2010 p 37. CL
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