Historical information

The handwritten letter addresses Mrs McNaughton (also known as Kathleen "Kitty" Hepworth), thanking her for her gift to Ruyton Girls' School. The Ruytonian December 1952 also acknowledges this gift, describing Mrs McNaughton as having "presented the school with a beautiful Ruyton flag." Kathleen McNaughton was a former Ruyton student, having enrolled in 1925. The letter is signed by Helen Cole.

Research indicates that the Ruyton flag was probably one used in inter and intra-school athletic competitions known as 'flag races', which were popular in the first half of the 20th century. In such races, teams ran relay-style, with their School's flag held aloft in the manner of an 18th century soldier charging into battle. Each flag was an important public symbol of school identity, and was made with care and used with pride. Though once a ubiquitous part of any school's sporting equipment, one flag races fell out of favour in the later 20th century, racing flags were usually discarded. However, it is unclear whether the flag gifted by Mrs McNaughton was indeed used for flag racing.


The record has strong historic significance as it was written by a former notable student, Helen Gordon (maiden name Cole). Helen started at Little Ruyton in Prep in 1940 and finished Year 12 in 1952 as School Captain, Bromby Captain, Form Captain for Matric, Tennis Captain, Hockey Captain, Swimming Vice Captain, and an award for Best All-Round Girl. She also played baseball for Victoria. After finishing school, Helen went on to graduate from the University of Melbourne as a physiotherapist in 1956. Her first position at age 19 involved setting up clinics with the Victorian Health Department Poliomyelitis Rural division.

Helen’s strong ties to Ruyton continued when she held the position of President of the Old Ruytonians’ Association from the start of 1966 to the end of 1967.

In 2019, Helen received an Order of Australia Medal for service to community health as a physiotherapist. She was also the recipient of the 2022 Victorian Senior Achiever Award at Parliament House.

Helen passed away in July 2023 at age 88.

The record's significance is further enhanced by its strong provenance, having been produced by Ruyton Girls' School and donated to the Archives by a familial connection.

Physical description

One loose sheet of cream coloured paper containing a handwritten letter, and printed with Ruyton Girls' School's name and emblem.

Inscriptions & markings

R /
KEW E.4. /
Dear Mrs Macnaughton, /
On behalf of the Ruyton /
girls, I would like to thank you most /
sincerely for your generous gift of our /
new Ruyton flag. /
As we have not had one for so /
many years, this one will be most /
acceptable, and we hope ^ we will be able /
to exhibit in the youth marches and /
on other occasions /
Last week it was shown in /
assembly, and everyone was so thrilled /
that we are eagerly looking forward /
to an opportunity to show it off. /
Thanking you once again /
Yours sincerely /
Helen Cole /
(Head Prefect) /

RGS008/2024/0008 /