Obituary: Co-founder of Mt Vic Flicks, Diane Bayley

Diane Nerridah Bayley (14.11.1944 -20.9.2020)

Mt Vic Flicks recently honored Diane Bayley, former Mt Vic Flicks founder. This eulogy was read by her sister-in-law Susan Ricketts.

Diane Bayley (nee Jackson) was born in Sydney on November 14, 1944 and adopted by Grace and Frank Jackson (both now deceased) of Thirroul on the NSW South Coast.

Although it was an ordinary family and she was the only child, Diane always felt she did not fit in and yearned to find her birth mother. After having her own children, and with the help of a private detective she located her birth mother in Melbourne. She was much happier after learning the reasons for her adoption. Ron says Diane and her birth mother were like two peas in a pod, sharing the same mannerisms, same choice of footwear and hairspray and lots of other similarities.

Diane attended Thirroul Public and then Bulli High School where she took a liking to Ron with his red hair. They become a couple after school finished in 1959 when she was 15. She wanted to be a hairdresser but due to severe allergies and dermatitis, hairdressing was out of reach. She found work in a department store in the hardware section and also taught herself to touch type with the aim of finding work as a bookkeeping machinist. This was of course long before computers.

She was employed by Channel 4 in Wollongong, then in Sydney with the finance company, Lombards. She made her own clothes, including a full length ballgown, for her debut in 1961 at a Masonic ball - made with a Bernina sewing machine, which is still going. Diane loved to dress up. For fun, she once dressed as a gypsy around Mt Victoria and fooled many people including the couple who ran the local deli and even Ron (for about five minutes).

Diane learnt piano as a teen and could play Beethoven's Fur Elise from memory, like a concert pianist. She enjoyed listening to the Wurlitzer organ and was instrumental in bringing an organ into this theatre.

On November 20, 1965, Diane and Ron married at the Bulli Methodist Church where they had met five years earlier. I remember the wedding well even though I was only eight. We children were tasked with shooing the hundreds of flies from around and under Diane's veil. Diane spent most of a day searching for one fly. Eventually she found the culprit under her skirt!

Diane had two children; Nerridah in 1967 and Andrew in 1970 and stayed home making clothes for herself and the children. She took in sewing from a local material shop to supplement finances. The curtains in this theatre were made by Diane and her trusty Bernina. She supported Ron with many ventures - the voice on the phone when Ron established an electronic servicing business and later when Ron ventured into the cinema industry. The stand-out was Mt Vic Flicks - established from the ground up, opening in July 1987. Locals said it would never last. Most gave it six months, but the pair operated the theatre for 27 years.

With the establishment of the theatre, Ron and Diane moved from the South Coast to the Mountains. Once the children left home, they traveled overseas and Diane fulfilled a long time wish: in 2015 they danced at the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool to music on a Wurlitzer organ.They took two trips on the Orient Express and also on Australia's Southern Aurora.

She loved animals and it's no surprise her favourite movie was Red Dog. She was instrumental in organising the star to be at this cinema. The dog sat on a 44 gallon drum on the red carpet before the screening.

Medical tests in 2016, revealed Diane had vascular dementia. She entered full-time care on January 28, 2019, following two respite stays. Diane passed away on September 20. Ron has lost a great mate.