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Gibbs, Mary Elizabeth




In October 1972, two armed men abducted teacher Mary Gibbs and her students. 20-year-old Gibbs was in charge of the one-teacher primary school at Faraday, a farming district near Castlemaine, Victoria. The men left a ransom note and placed their hostages in the back of the van and drove to the forest. To help settle the young children Gibbs pretended the incident was a game and sang songs to them during the long cold night. Near dawn, she realised the men had left the front of the van. She urged the children to kick the van door with her. Luck was with them, the door came free and they were able to make their escape.

After this incident the then Liberal Victorian Government closed one-teacher schools. Mary Gibbs received the George Medal on 22 January 1973 for bravery during a child hostage incident.

Sources used to compile this entry: Escott, Beryl E, Twentieth-Century Women of Courage, Sutton Publishing, Gloucestershire (UK), 1999, 282 pp.

Anne Heywood

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