Premier award for 66 years of service
WITH tears in her eyes Helen Wynd thanked all the 'traitors' who attended her surprise Premier's Award ceremony in Lismore yesterday.
"It's wonderful that they're all here to support me," she said afterwards.
"But I'm supposed to be catering a function this afternoon and all the food is at home in the fridge."
Helen has made a vast contribution over her lifetime, through a range of charities, causes and organisations.
She was only 15 when she began serving the community, joining the Red Cross.
Yesterday, in front of a large gathering of extended family and friends, the Member for Lismore, Thomas George, presented her with an engraved plaque to commemorate her contributions.
The Government Community Service award was established to recognise NSW people who have improved the quality of life of community members beyond the requirements of their day jobs.
Each member of State Parliament is entitled to nominate only two people or organisations per year for the Premier's Award.
"It is an honour, I suppose," Helen said with typical understatement.
"But you don't do these things for awards, now do you?"
At the age of 19, after the death of her older brother Gavin, Helen joined the Australian Army Medical Women's Service.
She was posted to Bathurst Hospital and then later to Darwin.
She worked in the Northern Territory until 1946, 12 months after the war finished, providing nursing care for prisoners-of-war returning from overseas.
After the war she became a member of the Ex-service Women's Association in Lismore where she lobbied for the rights of ex-service women. She is currently the president of the local branch.
It's appropriate that the ceremony took place in the Red Cross headquarters in Lismore.
Helen helped start up the local Red Cross blood bank, and is still involved in the organisation through her role in the voluntary aide detachment helping look after donors and raise funds.
Over the past six decades she has given her own blood 130 times.
She worked at the Jewel Centre in Lismore until her 'retirement' in 1988, but her commitment to community service has continued all the while.
She has held executive positions in the Presbyterian Church, Protestant Alliance Friendly Society, Lismore and District Pharmacy Board, Diabetic Association, St Andrew's Village in Ballina and Camp Drew.
She's now president of Goonellabah Senior Citizens and, even at 81, still picks up 'the oldies' for many meetings and functions.
Helen took time during her acceptance speech to thank some unknown person for the return of several medals that were stolen from her home a month ago.