EDDIE Whitham still remembers his mother saying whenever someone would walk down the garden path: “There’s someone coming, put some more water in the soup and add more peas”.
It’s a trait he’s clearly inherited.
Eddie is the face behind Multicultural Tamworth, the man responsible for helping settle some of the 86 nationalities that call Tamworth home, and the man who’s made an open-door home in the old Uniting Church, welcoming everybody from all walks of life with open arms.
Eddie was born in Wangaratta, Victoria, in 1943, as one of nine siblings.
His mother was Polish-Jewish and the earliest war bride to come to Australia from the Middle East in 1942 after his father met her while serving.
Eddie grew up in Victoria and went back and forth to Israel when his parents moved there in the mid-1990s.
He first came to Tamworth when he travelled around with his carpet cleaning business.
But when he married Barbara in 1968, the couple moved to Tamworth, where they had a son and daughter. They now also have four grandchildren.
Eddie founded Whitham’s Office Furniture Warehouse in 1974, which is still operating today.
In his 50 years in Tamworth, Eddie has been an honorary advocate for migrants and refugees since 1978, the chairman of the Tamworth Refugee Resettlement Committee from 1979-88, and the chairman of Multicultural Tamworth since its inception five years ago.
Eddie has also been the Tamworth Uniting Care Migrant Resource Committee chairman in 2007, member of Regional Advisory Councils of Community Relations Commission of NSW and Multicultural NSW since 2007.
Eddie has been a preacher at the Uniting Church for 25 years, a former Lifeline counsellor, and a Tamworth Literary Society member.
He and Barbara have travelled to more than 80 countries.
Eddie has been recognised for his volunteer work by being named Tamworth Citizen of the Year in 2014 among other accolades.
He’s also a passionate writer and public speaker on multiculturalism and immigration. '
Eddie and Barbara have transformed the old South Tamworth Uniting Church, which was built in 1963, into a space where everyone can feel comfortable.
“We bought it about 12 years ago,” Eddie said.
“We decided we wanted a place to have meetings here.
“We’ve had a Russian birthday here, Chinese new year here, people come here because they feel safe.”
What does he loved most about Tamworth?
“I enjoy the open spaces,” he says.
“I love driving in the bush. I go on every back road I can.
“It’s healthy, it’s clean, the schools are good, the medical services are good.
“What’s not to love.”