The following is an excerpt from a speech made during Awards Night 2001, where many "Bigs" and "Littles" were honoured for their extraordinary friendship. Anne and Mary were one of those marking their "graduation" from the Program.
When I first applied to be a Big Sister in late 1994, I was quite prepared to commit for the minimum 12-month period, but never expected my first match to last almost 7 years! Mary [not her real name] and I became an official Big and Little Sister early in 1995, and have not looked back since. I think both of us were a little shy with each other at first, but this soon wore off as we became more comfortable with each other, realising that despite an 11-year age gap, we actually had a lot in common.
From memory, our first outing was to the Mentone Bowling Alley, and after both displaying a distinct lack of talent for ten-pin bowling it goes without saying that we have never returned! Many more enjoyable Saturdays, Sundays and occasional weeknights have followed, some spent doing nothing more than sitting around in the backyard with the animals, or cooking pizza and watching a video.
Right from the very start, our friendship was something new for both of us – for Mary, being the eldest in her family, it was a novelty to have a big sister… and as for me, it was something new to have a sister, being both the youngest and the only girl in my family. But more importantly, it has developed into a friendship far beyond anything I had imagined – in fact, for a number of years now we have almost forgotten how it all started, and most people other than my closest friends just assume that we are actually sisters.
Having known Mary since she was almost twelve, I have watched her grow from the shy young girl I met with Jacquie, our then coordinator, in the late stages of the matching process, to the outgoing, confident and successful young woman she is today. It has been great to share some of life’s highs and lows with her, and to be there for her during her growth as a person, from school to boyfriends, plans for the future, travel and her increasing independence.
I am very proud of how far she has come as a person, grateful for her friendship, and I want her to know that this evening does not mark the end of our match, but is only the start of what I already know will be a wonderful friendship.