Arthur Connor and Mary Iris Gill formerly Connor on their wedding day at St Paul's Catholic Church in Glenreagh on April 30 1931.
Arthur Connor and Mary Iris Gill formerly Connor on their wedding day at St Paul's Catholic Church in Glenreagh on April 30 1931.

Fire destroys piece of family's history

LAURENCE Alexander Gill and Mary Iris Connor, were the first couple married in St Paul's Catholic Church in Glenreagh, which was destroyed by fire earlier this week.

Married on April 30, 1931, the couple live on in their son Bernie Gill who grew up in Glenreagh and attended St Paul's Catholic Church for church on Sundays.

When he was 13 Mr Gill was also an altar boy at the church.

Bernie Gill's parents were the first couple married at St Paul's Church in Glenreagh.
Bernie Gill's parents were the first couple married at St Paul's Church in Glenreagh. Caitlan Charles

Bernie Gill's wife Jill Gill said it's such a shame to see the church he spent so much time in destroyed on Sunday.

"It's a piece of history gone," Mrs Gill said.

At 5am on Sunday, fire services were called to the blaze at St Paul's Catholic Church and were unable to save the building.

Firefighters battle a blaze that destroyed the Glenreagh Catholic Church early Sunday morning.
Firefighters battle a blaze that destroyed the Glenreagh Catholic Church early Sunday morning. Jennie Joans

Clarence Valley Rural Fire Service district manager Superintendent Stuart Watts said both RFS and NSW Police were investigating the cause of the fire.

"The church was totally destroyed by the fire, and significant damage was done to the shed and vehicles that were inside, so we will be investigating to get to the bottom of the matter," he told the Daily Examiner on Monday.

Mr Gill's parents met through farming and timber milling in the area, his great-grandparents were Laurence Gill, a baker, and Emily Thornton.

Laurence Alexander Gill and Mary Iris Gill formerly Connor on their wedding day at St Paul's Catholic Church in Glenreagh on April 30 1931.
Laurence Alexander Gill and Mary Iris Gill formerly Connor on their wedding day at St Paul's Catholic Church in Glenreagh on April 30 1931. Ebony Stansfield

Laurence came to Australia on the Dorothy in 1820, and met Emily when she came to the country in 1827.

They had 12 children, of which one was Bernie's grandfather Henry Gill, who later married Caroline Mary Gill.

They are both buried in Ulmarra cemetery.

Police are urging anyone with information in relation to the fire to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page: https://nsw.crimestoppers.com.au/