Today's ceremony marks the beginning of a great undertaking, as we celebrate the momentous groundbreaking of SomerFields, the sporting and recreational facility at Dunn Road, Rocklea. While we all know this is an historic day, some might believe that it is also well overdue.

This day would not have come to fruition if it were not for the vision and hard work of many people. All such projects start with a vision. The foresight and wisdom of past School Principal Mrs Flo Kearney is acknowledged, with the School signing a contract in January 2014 and then finalizing the land purchase with settlement in August 2017. The vision has now become a reality with the School having a land holding of some 15 hectares of land, within 11kms of the school campus.

This is an appropriate occasion to acknowledge and commend all those who have been associated with the project to date. The Project Control Group led by Mr Steve Wintraaken, along with the School’s Facilities Manager, Mr Alan Clark, and our Business Manager, Ms Renee Bromiley, who have all played a major role in getting the project underway. I thank Mr Allan Legge, our former Director of Co-curricular Programs for his input and advice from the commencement of this project. In this thanks, I also acknowledge the collaboration between the landscape architects, environmental consultants, engineers, planners, quantity surveyors, irrigation designer and sports field specialists.

The masterplan for this land holding includes 4 playing fields, 10 multi-purpose hard courts, a club house, grandstand, car parking and other associated infrastructure.  Once the fields are complete, many co-curricular activities can be relocated to SomerFields including netball, soccer, basketball, athletics, softball, cricket and hockey.

For those of us here today at our sporting fields and recreational facility now affectionately known as SomerFields, we might think of the word "groundbreaking" as standing for something far more than the literal breaking of ground. 

It stands for the groundbreaking synergy between the landscape designers and the planners that will make SomerFields unique. 

It also stands for the original vision and groundbreaking wisdom in choosing to invest in a future that will benefit so many students.

And it most definitely stands for the groundbreaking generosity of Old Girl Ms Bethwyn Todd’s contribution of half a million dollars to bring the hard courts forward into the Stage 1 development, matched by the generous support from the Somerville House Foundation who have also contributed another half million dollars, along with donations from many generous parent and friend donors who love Somerville House and want to create a positive sporting experience for generations to come.

The preparations of close teamwork and partnership in planning that will achieve the best functionality and that have brought us to this point may have started from different perspectives, but we have today reached this groundbreaking day with a common voice.

We know that many Somerville House girls play Friday night Autumn fixtures and Saturday sport rounds, while our Junior School girls compete in the Andrews Cup competition.  Along with parents, I enjoy watching them compete, despite the travel that can be arduous.

Many of us long for times past when traffic was not so heavy, but I want you to imagine that it is 1910 and that your daughter is a student at Somerville House. She is a mad-keen vigoro player, but all matches are played on the fields at New Market … there is no Grey Street Bridge, no Walter Taylor Bridge, in fact … no cars, no trains, no buses.

So, to be part of the Saturday vigoro competition in 1910, you set off with your daughter at the crack of dawn in the horse and buggy via the dirt roads through Indooroopilly, then Toowong and through the city to the Northern suburbs. Parents did this every Saturday from May through to September and after watching their daughter play a number of rounds, they made the journey home.

Our Junior School captains Alexandra and Harrika are both with us here today and by the time they are in Year 10 in 2026 they will reap the benefits of playing sport at this facility.  And what a relief it is for parents to know that the development of the sporting fields will provide a single transport corridor with our water sports facility, that is our rowing shed and the Tennyson Tennis Centre all located within close proximity to each other.

So, WHY, throughout the decades, have parents devoted so much time and effort to ensure that their girls engage in sport?

Researcher, Brooke de Lench is a proponent of physical activity and sport for girls. She contends “the benefits of sports for girls are well-known. Sport teaches girls commitment, respect for others, how to relax, concentrate under stress, set and achieve goals, accept responsibility and failure and be gracious winners.”

Then there is the research that recognises the path to post-school success and entry to the boardroom may well be attributed to girl's involvement in sport.

Sport help girls develop leadership skills, self-reliance and self-discipline. Nearly nine out of 10 women executives in a survey by mutual fund giant Oppenheimer said sport helped them be more disciplined. Nearly seven out of 10 said sport helped them to develop leadership skills that contributed to their professional success.

So with SomerFields Stage 1 now underway, Somerville House will lead the way for all girls’ schools, with this world-class sporting and recreational precinct which will enable the School to optimise sporting opportunities for our students. 

It is exciting to witness the groundbreaking of SomerFields and the possibility of creating the stage for local, national and even international sports events where our athletes can excel, and where the community can come together for sports activities and recreation.

Thank you all for your participation today and for joining together to celebrate this groundbreaking occasion!

It is now my great pleasure on behalf of the Somerville House community to invite Bethwyn Todd, Old Girl 1989  and our Junior School Captains forward to turn the first sods to commence the construction phase of this magnificent project.