The shed was a memorial to Jack O'Donnell.
The shed was a memorial to Jack O'Donnell. Sofia Barbot

Special history behind memorial shed burnt down by children

BRYAN O'Donnell had a ninetieth birthday party to forget on Saturday.

A shed burnt down on the Kalka Shades hockey fields on Saturday afternoon, just a stone's throw from Mr O'Donnell's Water St home.

To some people it may just have been a shed, but for the O'Donnell family it was personal.

The shed was built by Mr O'Donnell's father, Jack, and other teammates from the Kalka Cricket Club in 1956.

Across the top on a piece of hardwood timber, the name "Jack O'Donnell" was etched into it.

 

The shed in the early days. It housed more than just equipment but was a clubhouse.
The shed in the early days. It housed more than just equipment but was a clubhouse. Sofia Barbot

After the club disbanded and they handed the shed (also known in the club as a pavilion) to the hockey club under the provision the memorial to Jack O'Donnell would remain.

Jack was one of the founding members of the club, and at the time, was chairman.

Following on in his footsteps, Mr O'Donnell began playing cricket when he was 13 years old.

He continued playing until he was 45 years old, taking on many roles over the years.

Mr O'Donnell was an all-rounder on the field, from bowler to wicket keeper.

 

One of the many Christmas parties held in the shed.
One of the many Christmas parties held in the shed. Sofia Barbot

For many years he was the caretaker of the wicket, taking care of the pitch and painting the while lines.

Mr O'Donnell's wife, Phyliss, was a scorer for the games and served smoko's to the teams.

The couple hold fond memories of their time in the pavilion.

"We had some good times over there ... all our Christmas parties," Mr O'Donnell said.

"When we had teams from the bush come in... we had a big party there.

"It was great... real great."

Hosting a birthday party at home on Saturday afternoon for Mr O'Donnell's ninetieth birthday, where they have lived for 67 years, the family could see the smoke from their front porch.

He said there were many emergency vehicles and a lot of smoke. They were devastated to find out it was the shed that was on fire.

 

BIRTHDAY SHOCK: Bryan O'Donnell with how the shed looks today.
BIRTHDAY SHOCK: Bryan O'Donnell with how the shed looks today. Sofia Barbot

Mr O'Donnell said his father would have been heartbroken to know it was burnt to the ground.

"He would have been very sad," he said.

 

Inside the burnt shed.
Inside the burnt shed. Sofia Barbot

The Morning Bulletin revealed on Monday Rockhampton police detectives had charged two children over the fire.

The fire began around 1.30pm in the midst of a storm and heavy rain.

Initial investigations suggest a cigarette lighter and accelerant was used to start the blaze.

The building caught well alight, causing significant damage to the structure and contents.

Insurance assessors have since attended the site, condemning the building.

Rockhampton Hockey Association facility director Ryan Knowles told The Morning Bulletin the shed housed hockey sticks, marquees, pop-up hockey fields, barbecues, painting machines, spare carpet, a mower, cleaners and a brush cutter.

There was also 1000 litres of glue inside for the turf, which has left a sticky residue all over the flooring.

Preliminary investigations estimate there is at least $100,000 in damage and equipment.



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