Fairfax Chullora Closes

Fairfax Chullora closes, but final edition is for the kids

Printers at Sydney’s Fairfax plant said goodbye to  183 years of news printing in June, when the Chullora  plant closed. But their spirit of generosity lives on for the Starlight Children’s Foundation charity.

The final 71 members at the Fairfax Herald-Sun Chapel decided that rather than dividing their union fund between them, they would donate all $24,750 to the charity which brings joyful activities to children who are seriously ill. There were laughs, speeches and maybe a few late-evening tears at a final barbecue at Chullora last June for finishing and former Fairfax printers. But there was also pride that they were helping the kids, and honouring the memory of industry legend Bob ‘The Eel’ Fohmsbee. Mr Fohmsbee, a former Father of the Chapel at News Limited in Surry Hills, also worked at Fairfax’s Chullora plant for nearly 15 years, but died this year from cancer, aged 65.

His AMWU comrades at Chullora felt the donation to the Starlight Children’s Foundation would also be a fitting tribute to the man nicknamed ‘The Eel’, due to his fanatical loyalty to the Parramatta NRL club.

Former Fairfax Father of the Chapel, Paul Mitchell, showed the Starlight Children’s Foundation certificate of appreciation in Mr Fohmsbee’s name to his wife, Lorraine, and daughter Shannon, who were honoured guests at the final barbeque.

The evening was organised by the AMWU and supported by Media Super.

‘The members felt that rather than take away about $300 each, which was neither here nor there, they could have a real impact helping sick kids, and also do something in Bob’s memory. While we may have finished our work as a group, we’ll leave a legacy which we hope will make some children’s lives brighter,’ said Mr Mitchell.

Mr Mitchell, the most experienced Fairfax publisher with 38 years’ service, said it was deeply emotional to put out the last Sydney Morning Herald produced by the chapel, founded in 1846 after the paper itself started in 1831. Most Fairfax city papers in NSW will now be printed at Richmond.

This article was originally published at amwu.org.au and has been reproduced with kind permission from the Union.
Photo caption: Chapel members at the Starlight Children’s Foundation. (L:R) Mark O’Donnell, ‘Starlight cadet’, Andrew Brown, Steve Wild, Paul Mitchell, ‘Captain Starlight’, Phil Campbell.