When seven exemplary Bathurst residents were named as Living Legends during the city’s Proclamation Day celebrations last month, inductee Wendy Jenkins said it was lovely to be included among so many people she knew in the community. “I was as nervous as anything,” she said. “It is so far out of my comfort zone, getting awards like this, but it was lovely. When I found out I was getting the award I had this feeling of, ‘What, me?’. It was an honour and I found out it’s a bit like a club, I get a tree.”
Growing up in Campbelltown, Ms Jenkins attended Strathfield Girls High School and developed a love of music after being inspired by her high school music teacher. “He was fabulous. He taught us to love music and would help take you to the top in the HSC,” she said. After graduating from high school, she attended the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, one of the most prestigious music schools in Australia.
Bathurst High School was her next destination in 1974, where she became the music teacher after finishing up at the conservatorium. Ms Jenkins spent 11 years at Bathurst High before she became a flute and recorder teacher at the conservatorium. She eventually returned to Bathurst to start up The Scots School’s youth band and, over time, started every senior school band in Bathurst, including the bands at Stannies, All Saints’ College and MacKillop College.
“So many kids have gone on to higher levels of music because of the youth bands,” she said. Some of Bathurst’s primary schools got a hold of Ms Jenkins after hearing about the work she had done with school music and she helped start youth bands at Bathurst, West Bathurst and Kelso public schools in the early 1990s. “It grew, exploded and went from there,” she said. While music may be Ms Jenkins’ passion, she has also been involved in the Bathurst sporting scene.
“I started the T-ball association and I was president for six years until it merged with softball,” she said. “I was also in the working party to get the netball association going. I played tenpin bowling at a regional and state level and coached junior state teams, including one that featured Jason Belmonte.”
Ms Jenkins was also one of the first female stewards for the Confederation of Australian Motor Sport.
But at the end of the day, she always found herself dedicating her time to music.
“Music has kept me going. I kept moving on from sport, but I’m still here doing music,” she said. “It’s a trend. I keep doing stuff for kids and it’s great to see their potential recognised. I love it.” She is currently a member of the Bathurst Arts Council and on the steering committee for the newly formed Bathurst Music Teachers’ Association. She is also a part of the Bathurst City and RSL Concert Band, the Carillon Show Band and is the music director at the Carillon Theatrical Society. She was heavily involved in the band when Beauty and the Beast was presented by the Carillon Theatrical Society in 2014 and will be again for next year’s performance of Wicked. While the cello and flute are her main instruments, Ms Jenkins can teach every instrument in a concert band.
Ms Jenkins has one daughter, a mechatronic engineer, who is based in Melbourne and is “fairly high up” in Energy Australia. Having living in Bathurst for 40 years, she describes the place as a “great town”.
“It’s why I stayed. It’s a great place to bring up kids and it’s not too far from Sydney.”