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  • Michelle Fincke

Meet Neil, the FMI's newest life member

Neil Farren is a member of the governing committee of the FMI. Neil is of Irish ancestry from County Donegal but was brought up in South London and has a local accent to prove it. His working-class background and experience on the housing estates that housed the immigrants from Africa, the Caribbean and Asia has influenced his championing of the underdog. He came to Australia several times before finally settling in Footscray first in Creswick Street then Eldridge Street with a young daughter in tow.


His encounter with the FMI occurred by accident working across the road from the institute in an Agency offering a suite of services to the homeless in 2001. He has a strong social commitment and works at the Food Bank and is a member of the local community garden. He walked across the road one afternoon and met the librarian Lyn Scholtz who impressed him and so he joined the library. He came regularly on a Friday to use the member computer to access the internet. He was unaware of the existence of the FMI committee but eventually applied to join the committee at the behest of the new librarian. His reason for joining initially was to commemorate Lyn Scholtz’s stewardship. He couldn’t attend monthly committee meetings held in the afternoon due to work commitments, so he resigned and rejoined when committee meetings were held in the evening.


Neil is a gentle giant, has a wicked sense of humour, is generous to tee, has a happy disposition, a gift of the gab and likes a decent beer. He is widely travelled and has the tales heavily embroidered with ethnographic and socio-political details that has the listener taking the trip with him in an instant. Having worked in universities and other organisations where the bureaucracy drove him to distraction he was attracted to the informality and practical approach of the FMI committee. His participation and contribution as a committee member has been second to none, he is always ready to offer advice and suggestions for improvement of the running of the FMI.

Neil has served on the library sub-committee rewriting the job description and statement of duties, keeping the librarian on his toes, planning activities to increase membership, participating in working bees and the renovation of the Reading Room. More recently as the library goes through organisational change, he has kept the library open on a Friday afternoon, signed up new members, audited the library collection, put together the Annual report.


His services rendered to the FMI over the thirteen years he has served on the FMI Committee were formally acknowledged at the February monthly committee meeting. He was officially given an FMI life membership and his name will be added to the list of life members plaque. The FMI is honoured to have Neil Farren as a life member and wish him all the best for his future as an active contributing serving committee member.

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