Home' Phillip Island and San Remo Advertiser : April 13, 2016 Edition Contents PAGE 10 - THE ADVERTISER, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 13, 2016
Friday, April 22
Contact Ben Fisher at
San Remo Hotel for any
Information 0413 625 965 JD4638
Aminah will be
that will be
For Sale at $25
How I Met Your Father
A STORY of triumph after terrible tragedy, and of
finding love and happiness in a most unusual way,
is chronicled in a new book “How I Met Your Father”
which will be launched at the San Remo Hotel on
April 20, following a similar successful launch in
Melbourne last week.
“How I Met Your Father” is written by Aminah Hart,
now a San Remo resident.
Aminah’s story, of falling in love with Scott Ander-
sen, the anonymous donor-father of her IVF baby
Leila, captured the nation’s attention after it was fea-
tured on ABC TV’ Australian Story earlier this year.
The story made for compelling viewing, and even
more so for South Gippslanders, with part of the ABC
segment filmed at the Inverloch Football Ground,
where Scott was coaching during a preliminary final
being played against Phillip Island.
Through Australian Story, we learned of Aminah’s
joy and happiness after giving birth to Leila via IVF
at age 43.
Later, Aminah sought out Leila’s donor father,
Scott, to see if he’d be interested in meeting Leila.
He agreed, and as we now know, the rest is history.
Leila and Scott became close, and Aminah and
Scott eventually fell in love, married, and now live at
But there was great deal in Aminah’s life that had
gone before, and this is also chronicled in the book’s
The tragedy she experienced was unimaginable,
but she somehow found the courage and resilience to
get back on her feet, to fulfil her dream of becoming
Aminah was born in London to a West Indian fa-
ther and Australian mother, and was brought up in
Melbourne by her single mum, Helen, and two much
In her early twenties, she travelled to London to
look for her father, Tony, only to discover he’d passed
After living in London for many years, Aminah mar-
ried and had a son.
The unthinkable happened.
Her beautiful baby, Marlon, died of an undiagnosed
congenital disorder at just three months of age.
Aminah’s marriage ended a year later and she re-
turned to Melbourne.
But tragedy was to strike again.
Aminah had another baby boy, Louis, who was
born with the same condition diagnosed as X linked
Myotubular Myopathy and died 14 months later.
Following this terrible period of time, Aminah
turned to IVF and after several attempts, gave birth
to a healthy baby daughter, Leila.
Encouraged by her mother, she decided to find out
the identity of Leila’s anonymous sperm donor, want-
ing her child to know who her father was, and after
contacting the donor Scott Andersen via the Donor
Voluntary Register, asked if he’d like to meet Leila.
He did! What she didn’t expect was to fall in love
with Scott herself.
Aminah and Scott married in late 2015 surround-
ed by family and friends, including Scott’s four older
children who were in the wedding party along with
When Aminah’s story was first aired on Australian
Story it made headlines around the world.
The ABC had been alerted to the story by an Inver-
loch friend of Scott who told them: This is a story
that should be told.
Scott got a call from the ABC 24 hours later, and
the Australian Story crew arrived within a week.
They spent a week with the family, and another
three days down the track, with hundreds of hours of
footage then condensed into just 26 minutes.
The day after the segment aired, Aminah was con-
tacted by no less than three publishers, suggesting
she write a memoir.
While she had found the filming emotionally gruel-
ling at times, the exposure had also opened up the
possibility in her mind, that maybe, just maybe, she
San Remo resident Aminah Hart is the au-
thor of a new book, “How I Met Your Father”
to be launched in the upstairs room at The San
Remo Hotel on Friday April 20 at 6.30pm. Ami-
nah Hart and Scott Andersen, whose lives were
chronicled on Australian Story on the ABC earli-
er this year, invite all interested members of the
community to join them for light refreshments
at the San Remo launch of Aminah’s book.
could write her story, as a tribute to her lost sons,
and a record for Leila, who could never know them.
She also thought of Scott’s three sons and daugh-
ters, who have been so welcoming to her; the happy
household that has been formed; and her opti-
mism as a new future beckons.
Publishers Allen and Unwin, who she signed
with, suggested she write an initial outline, titling
chapters in her life in chronological order, as a
means of commencing and working through the
But this was easier said than done.
Aminah found the challenge too emotionally de-
manding at the beginning, and it was impossible to
proceed at times.
Delving into the past and pulling out moments
in time for transcription was not an easy thing for
her to do.
In the end, she started with the happy part of her
life, and her new beginning with Scott, and wrote
The words soon flowed.
“I wrote it back to front, which is the story of my
life” she comments wryly.
“It was a very emotional experience.”
Writing her story was not in fact cathartic, as
some suggested it may be, but more, cause for re-
“The biggest thing I came to realise over the whole
process was that if you can just have resilience, you
can end up in a happy place.
“When you are going through life’s challenges, it’s
not that you have to be tough or strong because
that can also mean closed and cynical.
“But if you can be resilient, you can also maintain
an open heart and I think that’s what I have done.
As a child in primary school in Melbourne in the
1970’s Aminah suffered racial abuse, that went un-
addressed by the school authorities, and looking
back, she realises the building blocks for her were
laid down then.
She credits her wonderful mum with being her
rock, and getting her though hard times, and “me
maintaining a thick skin, but a soft centre inside.”
“I remained optimistic,” this brave woman says.
“You have to be prepared to find happiness, and
“As much as there are bad times, there are such
good times too.
“I think of this new chapter in my life as a happy
Interest in this heart-warming story continues to
Pictures in Paradise have purchased the film
rights to the book just released.
And the couple have been approached for the
rights to make a drama TV series.
In the meantime, Aminah is enjoying every min-
ute of her new life with Scott, Leila and the couples
blended families, and is looking forward to resum-
ing her work as a bereavement counsellor, reach-
ing out to bereaved parents and to women suffering
post natal depression.
Aminah and Scott are extending a warm invita-
tion to everyone in the community who would like
to attend the local launch of this inspiring story to
join them upstairs at the San Remo Hotel on Friday
night, April 22 at 6.30pm.
Aminah will be signing books that will be avail-
able on the night for sale for $25 (RRP $32.99).
Light refreshments will be served.
Descendants of Captain John Cleeland are pictured at last week’s plaque unveil-
A great racing feat
THE great feat of Phil-
lip Island’s most famous
winner of the 1875 Mel-
bourne Cup, has been
commemorated, with the
unveiling of a plaque at
the Newhaven Informa-
tion Centre last week.
Cape Woolamai was
the place from which
the horse left the island,
on its way to make his-
tory, and it was therefore
deemed fitting that a piece
of granite from the old
Woolamai quarry should
be installed at the Infor-
mation Centre, complete
with an inscribed plaque
to record this stage of lo-
cal history in perpetuity.
Tradition has it that
Wollamai, owned by is-
John Cleeland, a pasto -
ralist of Newhaven, was
walked from Woolamai
House outside Newhaven,
to run in the 1875 event.
And that it had to swim
the eastern channel to
San Remo to do so.
That year was the first
time the Cup had been
run on a Tuesday, so Wol-
lamai also holds the great
honour of ushering that
famous date - the first
Tuesday in November - on
to the Australian calen-
The Cleeland family of
Newhaven, who are the di-
rect descendants of Cap -
tain Cleeland, are already
sponsors of a plaque ded-
icated to Wollamai in the
Walk of Fame at Fleming-
ton race course.
And now a plaque recog-
nises the horse locally.
A great many Cleeland
family members still re -
side on Phillip Island, and
interest in Wollamai has
A large number were
present for last week’s
The idea of a local com-
memorative plaque came
about following a family
day at Woolamai House
in 2013, when the Mel-
bourne Cup toured the
Family members decid-
ed the feat should be com-
memorated locally, said
Captain Cleeland’s great,
great granddaughter Ann
Jeffery, and that is how
the idea of the plaque on
Cape Woolamai granite
“We wanted everyone
to know that a famous
race horse had been bred
here,” said Ann.
“The Information Cen-
tre was thought to the
best place for this, be -
cause that is where most
visitors to the island call.
Ann, supported by her
dad Ted Jeffery, Pam
Rothfield and Mike Clee-
land, led the project, with
the strong support of all
the other extended family
members, a large number
of which turned out to
the recent dedication cer-
Jim Cleeland, a grand-
son of Captain Cleeland,
welcomed all present, and
gave a brief outline of his
grandfather’s arrival in
Australia in 1840 on a
ship called the Androm-
“ He could hardly have
imagined the success he
was to have with his in-
volvement in horse racing,
or the interest it would
still generate 150 years
later.,” Jim commented.
Captain Cleeland was
born in County Down,
Northern Ireland in 1828
and immigrated to Aus-
tralia in 1840 as a 12 year
old with his parents and
He bought a large parcel
of land at Phillip Island in
the 1860’s and ran it as a
farm which is where Jim
and his eight brothers
and sisters grew up.
great grandson Ted Jef-
fery thanked the Phillip
Island Information Centre
for allowing the granite to
be placed in their garden
recalling it as a very dif-
ferent piece of land com-
pared to what it was when
he went to school, as back
then it was nothing but
Ted thanked his daugh-
ter Ann Jeffery for bring-
ing the day to bear; Pam
Rothfield who arranged
for the plaque to be cast;
and Mike Cleeland who
selected the granite and
liaised with the Nature
Park to facilitate its instal-
lation. Ted also thanked
Andy Dallinger, who with
his crew from the Nature
Park, excavated the gran-
ite and bought it to this
A poem written by Mike
Cleeland called Woolamai
was read to the gathering;
a champagne toast was
drunk, and everyone ad-
journed to a family lunch
on the original Cleeland
property “Brethany. ”
This plaque commemorating Phillip Island’s most
famous racehorse Wolomai, winner of the 1875 Mel-
bourne Cup, was unveiled last week by descendants of
its owner, Captain John Cleeland.
Wollomai was a bright bay horse, standing about
15 hands 2 inches, had a good sensible head set on
to a symmetrically shaped neck, let into excellent
shoulders; he was very deeply ribbed, and had nicely
turned, muscular quarters, with splendid legs.”
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