In typical Wee Waa fashion, acting St Augustine’s Anglican Church minister Stephen Gabbott and his wife Marion have received a warm welcome to the town.

The Gabbott surname is familiar to Wee Waa residents with Reverend Bernard Gabbott previously serving as the church’s minister before moving to Narrabri.

Now, Bernard’s parents have temporarily called Wee Waa home until the new Anglican Church minister arrives in the new year.

Stephen and Marion were delighted with their friendly welcome to the town after arriving just weeks ago.

As the couple told The Courier about the kind hospitality shown to them, they offered up a plate of caramel tarts made by beloved local Betty Currey.

Gorgeous flowers from Mrs Currey’s garden took pride of place on the Gabbotts’ table.

“The people have been really kind to us,” Stephen said. “We have made a number of trips here so we’re not unfamiliar with the town.”

The couple, who call Ulladalla home on the state’s south coast, will enjoy the opportunity to spend time with their son, Bernard, daughter-in-law, Anita, and grandchildren, Seth, Baxter, Elsa and Sage.

Stephen and Marion said with their home down on the south coast, they didn’t get a chance to see their son and his family as often as they would like.

The couple has enjoyed travelling the state with Stephen acting as an interim minister in various country towns until a new minister is appointed.

Last year, Stephen and Marion had the pleasure of spending time in Lightning Ridge and Tambar Springs.

“Each one of these places has been really interesting,” Stephen said.

“You get to meet people you’ve never met before.”

“You get to meet some extraordinary individuals,” Marion added.

The Gabbotts have led an interesting and extraordinary life with their faith taking them to different parts of the world.

As a young adult, Stephen studied aeronautical engineering and served as an aircraft engineer with Qantas while his wife Marion was a teacher.

Both grew up in Sydney ­- Stephen in Maroubra on the city’s south-east coast and Marion on Sydney’s north shore.

They moved to Africa in the 1970s, working in Tanzania and Kenya from 1972 to 1979 with a family in tow.

The couple recalled living in a slum at the end of their time in Kenya and remember seeing a case of bubonic plague in the country and possibly smallpox.

When they returned to Australia, they settled in Kiama for several years before venturing to Bangkok, Thailand, where they stayed for eight years. They returned in 2012.

“It has been an interesting life,” said Marion.

She recalled getting involved in a non-government organisation that helped care for children who suffered birth defects.

“It was the only big orphanage in Bangkok,” she recalled.

“They [the children] were just left on the floor.”

She said they would help give the children play therapy and pick them up and cuddle them.

The couple also recalled assisting refugee camps near the border of Thailand and Burma. The border between the two countries is known for its hostilities.

“Against that background, coming to country towns has been a different learning experience,” Marion said.

Reflecting on his arrival to support the Wee Waa church, Stephen said he hoped it would add a sense of stability to have someone come to the town in these COVID times.

Services have resumed at St Augustine’s, with gatherings being held in the church’s gardens on a Sunday.

“For those who attend church, that service is what Sundays are built around,” Stephen said.

“Meeting on Sundays for some of them is very important.”

He said church-goers were happy to see services resume.

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