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Carolyn Santaguiliana has a long history with the Southern Bay Islands and the Macleay Island Arts Complex Inc in particular.

For the past 17 years, Carolyn has been patron of the popular arts group that is located in one of the best spots on Macleay Island.

It has everything to do with her history as a long-time Redlands girl; and her marriage to a former Redland City Council Mayor, Eddie Santaguiliana, who died way before his time at just 55 years of age.

She was for many years, the Redlands’ ‘First Lady’.

“I grew up in the Redlands and I was always aware of the islands, being ‘just over there’ “, Carolyn told The Friendly Bay Islander.

Carolyn Santaguiliana grew up as Carolyn Buckler.

“Both my family and Eddie’s family were Redlands landowners who had farms that produced vegetables and other produce for many years. Eddie was born in Italy and emigrated here when he was just a small boy.

“I always had a love of dancing, and that’s how I met Eddie, at local old time dances.”

The couple went on to have three sons and, along the way, Eddie had a ‘revelation’ when he turned 30.

“He needed to contribute to the community, so he stood for council and he remained involved until his sudden death in 2001,” Carolyn remembers.

As Mayor and as the ‘First Lady’ of the Redlands, the couple attended functions and events all over the Redlands.

And among those functions were the very first events held by the arts group on Macleay Island.

“I can remember we used to come over to the islands in the old, slower vessels in those days in the mid 1990’s.

“We came in all weathers and I remember the very first small building of the Macleay Island art group that was built was on the present site, but was not much more than a kitchen.

“If you check the floor out in that area today, you will see a cluster of varied floor tiles. That’s how basic it was back then.

“MIAC has come a long way, but I still love to go back to that spot at the complex. It brings back many lovely memories,” Carolyn said.

After Eddie Santaguiliana died suddenly 17 years ago whilst still Mayor of Redland City Council, the island arts group asked Carolyn to take over her husband’s role as Patron of the organisation.

“I have always loved the arts and have had a particular love of the arts group on Macleay island.”

Today, Carolyn now shares the role of patron with State MP for Redlands Kim Richards.

“It is so appropriate that Kim now is involved; and I am so happy I can now share the patronage with her.

“The island people have always been just so lovely and hospitable; their passion warms my heart.

“And there is no doubt that artists on the islands punch above their weight.

“We have some incredible artists now living on our islands and the strength of the arts community is a beacon for others to come,” Carolyn Santaguiliana added.

“I am so happy I am still involved and I love them all; and I think they love me too”.

We think so too!

• Carolyn Santaguiliana with MIAC president Craig Shanks at a recent MIAC event.