Hypodrive founder grasps 1 per cent chance

When Sharon Whitchurch left home for work in 2006, she couldn’t have imagined that 16 years later she’d be organising a charity ball to raise awareness about the dangers of driving with medical conditions.

Yet on 8 December 2021, she made a public call for people to get behind the inaugural Black Tie Masquerade Ball in Maryborough for that reason.

On that fateful day 16 years ago, Sharon, who has since re-married and changed her surname to Bell, was involved in a car accident that almost claimed her life.

Doctors gave her just a one per cent chance of survival and after six weeks in a coma, her life support system was turned off. Two weeks later she woke.

“Investigations revealed the crash resulted from a driver experiencing a hypoglycaemic episode, a condition in which the blood glucose levels drop below 4mmol/L, whereby cognitive functions can become impaired,” Sharon said.

Forty-five operations and years of rehabilitation later, Sharon is living proof that the will to live can overcome such enormous obstacles.

Tragedy leads to Hypodrive

In 2009, Sharon formed Hypodrive, a not-for-profit organisation that campaigns for awareness about how to stay safe when driving with medical conditions.

She said the best time to educate drivers about the associated dangers was when they were learning.

“Each year in Queensland, there are about 2000 Learner Drivers and 2500 P Platers driving while they have medical conditions,” she said.

“For these young adults, the only legal requirement prior to getting a full driver’s license is to notify the Transport Department that they have a condition.

“All they need is a doctor’s medical certificate stating they are fit to drive.

“The onus is on the drivers to know if their conditions, such as diabetes, which fluctuates, are stable enough to drive.

“With 100 hours of driver training required to get a P Plate license, none of these hours is dedicated to learning how to stay safe on our roads while living with a medical condition.

“This is where Hypodrive’s 5 to Drive program comes in.

“We believe all learners have the right to know what resources are available to them in order to drive safely and help reduce our tragic road tolls.

“The cost for each participant to complete their training is about $500.”

All proceeds from the inaugural Black Tie Masquerade Ball will benefit learner drivers with medical conditions within the Fraser Coast region.

Don masks for Hypodrive charity ball

On 12 February 2022, Fraser Coat Tourism and Events Chair Greig Bolderrow will MC the inaugural Black Tie Masquerade Ball at the Maryborough City Hall.

The popular Fraser Coast show band Soul City will provide music from their repertoire of soul, funk and rock covers.

International artist KTK will provide set-ups, and Kaitlin’s Aerial & Dance Academy will give world-class performances, including spectacular circus acts by students of the local Circus Academy.

The event is being supported by the Rotary Club of Maryborough Sunrise, which will run the bar (cash/card available).

Ball tickets cost $130 each and include a three-course dinner (served Canapé style), and some drinks.

To book, and for more information about the Hypodrive and the 5 to Drive Program, visit


PHOTO: Sharon Bell (nee Whitchurch) and learner driver Robert Tutton launch the charity masquerade ball campaign.


Mary bell for Nuyina, Australia’s new icebreaker

When Australia’s new Antarctic icebreaker, the RSV Nuyina, makes its maiden voyage later this year, it will be carrying a bell made in Maryborough.

Nuyina; Ship at seaA team from the Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition (ANARE), made a special trip to Maryborough on 15 July 2021 to watch the casting of the ship’s bell at Old’s Engineering in North Street.

ANARE Club National Council president Richard Unwin said Nuyina was built in Romania to replace the Aurora Australis, Australia’s Antarctic flagship from 1989 until 2020.

“Aurora Australis has been retired and the new one (Nuyina) will be the main lifeline to Australia’s Antarctic and sub-Antarctic research stations,” Mr Unwin said.

“It is 160 metres long, weighs 25,500 tonnes and will carry two million litres of fuel to restock all four (Antarctic) stations.”

Nuyina was almost complete in July 2020 but the Covid-19 pandemic delayed its last trials. It’s now expected to arrive in Hobart later this year.

Mr Unwin said the bell would be onboard Nuyina throughout its expected 30-year lifespan life.

“It’s good to see tradespeople still around that can use traditional methods to make bells for ships such as the Nuyina.”

Nuyina bell a link to the Antarctic’s past

Olds Engineering managing director Robert Olds said the bell would be a link to all people who have worked at Australia’s Antarctic research stations.

“This bell is made from a metal that’s known by several names including Gun Metal No. 1 and Admiralty Gun Metal,” Mr Olds said.

“Queensland Rail uses the same composition (88 per cent copper, 10 per cent tin and two per cent zinc) and call it Steam Metal.

“This metal was used to make the guns that fired cannonballs in the early days of the British Admiralty when they fought against the French and Spanish.”

Ship’s soul

Often considered to be a ship’s soul, bells are used for signalling, keeping time and sounding alarms. They’re also used for onboard ceremonies such as baptisms, weddings and funerals.

“If you find an old ship’s bell, have a look inside – you may see engraved names,” Mr Olds said.

To make the Nuyina’s bell, Olds modified an existing pattern, cast the metal in sand and polished it with a lathe and hand-held sander.

ANARE Gratitude

ANARE National Council secretary Trevor Luff thanked Olds Engineering and Hayes Metals for the bell’s creation.

“We thank the Olds family for their most generous offer of casting the bell and also to Hayes Metals, New Zealand and Australia for their most generous offer to supply the metal free of charge,” Mr Luff said.

“We will never forget the experience. We were so excited driving home the conversation never stopped and in a blink were out the front of our house in Cooroy.”

Olds bell for the Nuyina

Olds Engineering apprentices Lachlan Hansen (left) and Calen Simpson, Olds managing director Robert Olds Antarctic Engineer author Dale Jacobsen, ANARE Australian and Queensland secretary Trevor Luff , Peter Olds, ANARE Club National Council president Richard Unwin, and ANARE member Peter McKenzie.

Olds Engineering apprentices Calen Simpson (left) and Lachlan Hansen chip the remaining cast from the Nuyina’s new bell, watched by Doug Eaton (back left), Antarctic Engineer author Dale Jacobsen, ANARE member Peter McKenzie, ANARE Australian and Queensland secretary Trevor Luff and ANARE Club National Council president Richard Unwin, and Olds managing director Robert Olds.

Olds Engineering apprentices Lachlan Hansen (left) and Calen Simpson chipping remains of the cast from the bell.

Olds Engineering apprentices Calen Simpson (left) and Lachlan Hansen chip the remaining cast from the Nuyina’s new bell, watched by Doug Eaton (back left), Antarctic Engineer author Dale Jacobsen, ANARE member Peter McKenzie, ANARE Australian and Queensland secretary Trevor Luff and president Richard Unwin, and Olds managing director Robert Olds.


Olds makes bell for Nuyina

Peter Olds, Doug Eaton, Robert Olds, Calen Simpson, Lachlan Hansen, and Richard Unwin check the bell after being removed from its cast.



Mary Ann’s priceless nameplate comes home

A priceless piece of Queensland’s railway history has reappeared after 127 years.

Ipswich railway enthusiast Merv Volker, who visited the Maryborough last week, has donated the nameplate from the original Mary Ann locomotive to the Whistlestop museum where its replica locomotive is housed.

Mary Ann was the first steam locomotive built in Queensland by John Walker & Co. Ltd. in 1873 for William Pettigrew and William Sim.

The timber pioneers used the loco to haul logs in the Tin Can Bay area but she vanished in 1893 after a Mary River flood and fire at the Dundathu sawmill where she was stored.

In 1999, Maryborough engineer Peter Olds launched a full-size replica that he and his team at Olds Engineering built using just three historic photographs to guide its creation.

The Mary Ann replica is now an iconic attraction in Maryborough, regularly chuffing her way through Queens Park pulling carriages filled with enthusiastic sightseers.

Where has Mary Ann’s nameplate been for 127 years?

Mr Volker, a former Granville resident and now volunteers at the Ipswich railway museum, said he bought the solid brass curved plate bearing the name ‘Mary Ann’ from a long-time friend in Gympie.

“He had it for some years before I bought it from him 23 years ago,” Mr Volker said.

“I don’t know how he came to have it and I don’t want to say how much I paid, but it wasn’t a lot.

“Several times I’ve been going to bring it up to Maryborough but I’ve had doubts about its authenticity.

“I couldn’t give the museum something that was a reproduction. Peter can make his own reproductions – I don’t need to give them one.”

Is it the original nameplate?

Mr Olds said he was thrilled to receive the “priceless” railway artifact from Mr Volker.

“It has to be the genuine plate,” he said. “You just can’t put a price on this type of history.”

Telltale signs include it having a reverse curve and no grooves on the back.

“We also got a piece of plate off an old boiler that’s three-foot six diameter and it fits exactly.

“And, the shape of lettering on the plate is identical to the lettering shown in the old photographs.”

Mr Olds said the nameplate would have been attached to Mary Ann’s original boiler with two screws.

“There’d be steam pressure on those screws and they wouldn’t come out too easily. Whoever took it off would have had to do so with great care.

“It’s amazing the plate is still in such good condition, apart from being slightly bent.”

What will happen to the historic nameplate?

Mr Olds said the Maryborough City Whistlestop committee was planning to fix the original nameplate to the Mary Ann replica.

“It’ll be on the rear end of the engine so passengers can see the plate from the front carriage, touch it and take photographs.”

Mary Ann

Railway enthusiast Merv Volker (left) donates the nameplate from the original Mary Ann to Peter Olds on behalf of the Whistlestop museum in Maryborough, Qld.

Why donate it now?

When asked what prompted him to donate the plate now, Mr Volker said that being 76 years of age, the time had come to downsize his collection of railway memorabilia.

“There comes a time when you have to clean up after yourself,” he laughed.

“I have a large collection and if I was hit by a bus tomorrow, (my sister) Marilyn (Jensen) would have to clean it up.

“It’s a hell of a job. It’ll take me all year to dispose of it. We’ve been going a couple of months already and there’s still so much other stuff.

“My collection includes a lot of Queensland Railway china. I’m not letting that go, but the rest can go.

“Marilyn knows that if something happens to me, she’s to give the china to the railway museum at Ipswich because there are pieces in there they haven’t got.

“Different people who are involved in collecting railway history have different prime subjects. Some people collect tickets only. Others collect things such as lamps and uniforms.”

Call for more relics and photos

Mr Olds said the Maryborough City Whistlestop committee was keen to accept more donations of other local railway relics and photos, including the second locomotive made by John Walker & Co. Ltd, Mary Ann’s sister ‘Dundathu’.

To contact the committee phone (07) 4121 0444 or email

For more on Mary Ann’s history, visit and

Young couple re-open historic pub

Arguably the youngest couple ever to run a pub in Australia, Emma Hurley, 21, and Hayden Rimmington, 22, wanted to run the backpacker hostel at the Globe Hotel in Bundaberg, but they also needed to be licensed publicans.

So now they are! They quickly learnt how to pour beer and opened for business on September 1, 2019.

“I always wanted a pub but never knew we’d do it so young,” Hayden said.

“If anyone had asked us three years ago where we thought we’d be now, we couldn’t have imagined this, Emma having been in retail and me a farmhand.

“The most nerve-wracking thing was being of a younger age and thinking people wouldn’t take us seriously for the venture we’ve undertaken.

“It was quite overwhelming at first but having the locals and new people coming in encouraging us made things easier.”

Great spot for backpackers

The Bundaberg-born couple said the Globe was an excellent spot for backpackers, many of whom come here for their required 88 days of regional work.

“We have just 16 beds; we know everyone by name and can have a yarn and a laugh with them. They can even meet our beautiful pub dog Bessie.”

Emma said backpackers could find jobs all year round, picking small crops and packing fruit sheds.

“Early each morning, Hayden drives the backpackers to the farms and greets them again at the end of the day,” she said.

“At the Globe, backpackers have access to facilities such as kitchen, bath, showers and washing machine as well as a common room and big outdoor area.”

Old world charm in the city centre

Hayden said the Globe was one of only a few country pubs left in the centre of Bundaberg.

“There aren’t many places still around that have kept their heritage atmosphere.

“We want to spruce it up with some fresh paint but keep its old colouring and features such as the old timber-lined cold room; that’s what people like to see.”

What’s next?

Emma and Hayden are yet to decide what new services they’ll introduce at the Globe.

“We already have a wedding and wake booked in but otherwise it’s about testing the water and seeing what people want,” Hayden said.

“There are no poker machines; no gambling. Please come in for a cold beer and a yarn!”

Emma Hurley, 21, and Hayden Rimmington, 22, re-open the historic Globe Hotel in Bundaberg.


Anthropologist finds her groove making Comfort Bears

Unemployed anthropologist Vickie Hartland has found her groove up-cycling old jeans to create Comfort Bears for people around the globe.

“Making Comfort Bears is my accidental business,” Vickie said when I met up with her at the Cairns Esplanade Markets in June 2017.

“When found myself out of work, I made a bear for my grandson and put a picture on Facebook then suddenly got orders from all over the world.

“My first trade was an upholsterer. I haven’t done it for many years but I’ve gone back to my original skill set.”

jeansVickie said her Comfort Bears were often used as Grief Bears.

“People grieving the loss of loved ones have got something they can cuddle.

“When my brother died, his youngest son started sleepwalking and we’d find him curled up in a wardrobe or under his dad’s clothes until he got a Comfort Bear.

“For years after my sister lost her husband, she still had his pillow and uniform in a zip lock bag so she could still smell him.

“Another lady whose dad had passed away 10 years earlier still had all of his clothes until she got one of my bears and was able to let go.

Vickie said the Comfort Bears were also ideal for children with autism because they liked a sense of everything the same every day.

“While a child sleeps, you can pop the bear in the washing machine and dryer, then take it back into them and the child never knows it’s gone.”

Vickie’s handmade bears are created from old denim jeans to help keep them away from landfill.

“It’s ridiculous how many jeans end up as landfill,” she said.

“We don’t wear jeans all year round and every season people get new jeans and the old ones end up either in op shops or as landfill.”


Diamond wedding anniversary worth celebrating

If there is a short-cut to happiness, Len and Shirley Shaw of Maryborough found it when they met at a dance more than half a century ago.

One dance – the Twilight Waltz – was all it took to set the scene for 60 years of marriage that produced three daughters, 15 grandchildren and by the end of this year, 18 great-grandchildren.

Len and Shirley were married at St Paul’s Church of England (now Anglican Church) in Maryborough on June 16, 1956.

Celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary at B & B On Sunrise in Tinana on June 18, the couple agreed their secret to a long marriage was simply to “be happy”.

“We don’t have any arguments,” Len said. “If it looks like there’s an argument brewing, I go down to the dam and come back an hour later.”

Shirley (nee Birt) said: “I watch The Bold and the Beautiful on TV. He hates that so I watch it and he goes outside.”

Their recipe for compatibility works for them.

“It’s been easy sailing,” Shirley said. “We’ve had an ordinary life, nothing special really. We’ve only been on one trip, a Fairstar cruise. Otherwise, we’ve just worked and raised the kids.”

Anything but ordinary

However, the glint in Len’s eyes and Shirley’s cheeky smile suggests their story is anything but ordinary.

“Len had an AJS motorbike that we often rode to Hervey Bay,” Shirley continues.

“In those days you never wore a helmet. We were coming home from Gympie one night and we were just outside Tiaro.

“I’m on the back asleep on his shoulder and we woke to the sound of gravel scratching the bike as we were headed for the bush.

“Luckily we woke up in time. We were both asleep with no helmets on and we survived.”

Rowing for his ex-boss

Len, a typical Aussie larrikin, was sacked from his first job at Reid’s Bacon Factory after an altercation with his boss.

“It end up that he had a rowing team and he wanted another man so I rowed in his crew. There was no animosity,” he said.

Len grew up in Maryborough’s flood area of the Pocket, the son of a blacksmith whose shop was located opposite the Carlton Hotel on the east side of Bazaar Street.

“I used to ride a horse to drive the cows down every morning before school and bring them back past Reid’s Bacon Factory in the afternoon to do the milking.

“One day the boss’s son pulled me up and asked if I wanted a job. I was only 13 so my old man rang the headmaster to see if I could leave school.”

Len laughs: “The headmaster said ‘For Christ sake, take him the hell out of here!'”

Hervey Bay’s first Mr Whippy

That was the first of many jobs from the bacon factory to sugar and meat factories, driving trucks and owning a bread run. He was even Hervey Bay’s first Mr Whippy!

“I was Mr Whippy when it first came to town,” Len said. “I had the Hervey Bay run and I’d pull up and there’d be kids coming from everywhere.

“I also sold insurance for three months but hated it – if you couldn’t eat it I didn’t want to sell it!”

Len said: “We were never rich with money but we felt rich having such a beautiful family.”

Most of them were among the 50 people who gathered to celebrate Len and Shirley’s special milestone.

Science experience tops for St Mary’s College student

What do ice cream, glandular fever, sunburn and Walt Disney all have in common?

Leticia Fuller of Maryborough and her nine state counterparts attended a three-day science experience at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Toowoomba.

Still beaming with excitement, Ms Fuller shared details of her experience with her sponsor, the Rotary Club of Maryborough Sunrise, at a recent breakfast meeting.

Rotary Sunrise President Glenda Pitman said the club sponsored Ms Fuller by covering the program cost.

“Leticia is a very conscientious and hard-working student,” Mrs Pitman said.

“It’s wonderful to hear such an eloquent and enthusiastic student talk about her experiences. She is obviously passionate about science and a great ambassador for Rotary.”

‘Absolutely amazing’ science experience

Leticia told Rotarians her experience in Toowoomba was “absolutely amazing!”

“We studied all different science things from engineering and hematology to agronomy and astronomy,” the Year 9 St Mary’s College student said.

“During the event, we made soft-serve ice cream using liquid nitrogen, cream, milk and vanilla essence.

“We also went into different science and medical laboratories to see what university labs look like.

“In the medical lab, we looked at hematology and did a full DNA test. Within the samples I had, I diagnosed someone with malaria, glandular fever and diabetes.

“With agronomy, the study of plants, we looked at wheat, barley and sugarcane and the different sorts of root crops, as well as photosynthesis and how changing the C02 levels, temperature and colour of light, can affect how fast and slow they grow.

“We also looked at UV radiation. Even when it’s cloudy UV radiation is still there so you can still get sunburnt, just not as bad. We had clear UV beads and when we were inside a building they were completely clear and see-through but when we went into the sun, depending on the strength they changed colour to vibrant pink, purple or yellow.

“Even sitting in a car, if you have windows that aren’t tinted the UV is coming through so you can still get sunburnt. We learnt how it causes skin cancer and kills cells within us.”

Ms Fuller said engineering activities included designing the keyboard of a laptop computer using a circuit board, paper and a pencil so that when keys are drawn on the paper were pressed they connected to the computer.

“It’s amazing to see what you can do with a computer. You wouldn’t think a computer could take your life so far but it does.

“One of our instructors used to work for Walt Disney Productions. She was one of those who did all the animations in movies and showed us in-depth how they’re all created.

“We also looked at computer programming games and created our own programs while we’re there.”

Ms Fuller hopes her interest in all things science will lead to a career in pediatric nursing.

The ConocoPhillips Science Experience is designed to provide Year 9 and 10 students who have an interest in science with an opportunity to engage in a wide range of fascinating science activities under the guidance of scientists who love their work.

The event takes place in over 35 universities and tertiary institutions across Australia.


Photo:  Maryborough’s St Mary’s College Year 9 student Leticia Fuller joins other science enthusiasts at this year’s ConocoPhillips Science Experience.

Orangutans in the spotlight

The plight of Indonesian orangutans and what Australians can do to help their closest primate relatives will be in the spotlight at the USQ Green + Thumbs session at University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Fraser Coast.

Coinciding with Threatened Species Day 2015, USQ business student Sophia Fuller of Hervey Bay will talk about her experiences in the Indonesian forests and the work being done there to ensure the orangutans’ survival.

Threatened Species Day is a national day held on September 7 each year to commemorate the death of the last remaining Tasmanian tiger (also known as the thylacine) at Hobart Zoo in 1936.

The event is a time to reflect on what happened in the past and how people can protect threatened species in the future.

Borneo Orangutan Survival (BOS) Australia statistics show orangutans are an endangered species with an estimated 50,000 left in the wild.

“This large, gentle red ape is one of our closest relatives, sharing 98% of our DNA. The greatest threat to their survival is the destruction of the rainforest.

“Some experts say about 6000 orangutans are disappearing every year and without our collective help orangutans could be extinct in the wild within our lifetime.”

Ms Fuller’s interest in Borneo orangutans began in 2009 when she was still at high school in Brisbane.

“Working through the DeforestACTION centre we focused on the palm oil aspect, spreading the word,” she said.

“Natural forests were being cleared for logging and palm oil plantations. Orangutans can’t live in those plantations – there’s no fruit suitable for them to eat. When the forests have burnt the orangutans either die, get poached, or taken as pets and traded.”

BOS statistics show palm oil accounts for 35% of world edible vegetable oil production.

“About 80% is used as vegetable oil or put in other ingredients. It can be found in many processed foods from ice cream and chocolate to cereals and fruit juice.

“Palm oil is also found in cosmetics and household products including toothpaste, shampoos, makeup and detergents.”

Visiting Borneo’s Orangutan Centre

In 2014 and 2015, Ms Fuller and her fellow students visited the Orangutan Centre in Borneo.

“We saw the clinic where baby orangutans are rescued, rehabilitated and trained to live in the wild,” she said.

“The babies come out once a day to play in the trees. When they reach the next step in their growth, they’re moved to another place and eventually taken about 60km out of the city and released into a protected forest.

“Another protected forest I went to is specifically for research. They’ve got the most current data you can find in Indonesia and they’re doing some amazing things with conservation and reforestation.”

The USQ Green + Thumbs session will also include a talk on Australian Threatened Species.


Are we too reliant on antibiotics?

Human infants were born on forest floors for thousands of years before the advent of sterile hospital theatres yet our race not only survived, it thrived, says University of Southern Queensland (USQ) Fraser Coast Nursing Lecturer Ruth Newby.

Antibiotics: Aliens or Old Friends?

Photos by Rikki-Lee Wrighson.

“Today, human infants born by cesarean section are at a nutritional disadvantage compared to those born naturally,” Mrs Newby said.

“A cesarean-born baby will take longer for its gut to be colonised in the same way as an infant born naturally because it doesn’t get the same ‘bugs’ from the mother.”

Modern society’s excessive reliance on antibiotics and disinfectants will be in the spotlight at the USQ Fraser Coast Open Day on August 2, 2015, when the local scientist and research fellow makes her Future Talks presentation titled Aliens, or old friends?

“Most of us look into the night sky and wonder if there is intelligent life somewhere else in the universe,” Mrs Newby said.

“When we look for aliens in outer space, what we don’t always recognise is that aliens are not only around us in our environment but actually inside us.

“We look at our own planet and think scientists know all about everything on Earth but we are yet to discover the full spectrum of life here.

“Humans are intrinsically reliant on the organisms in our gut to make us healthy, to nourish us, yet we don’t know everything that’s there. We don’t recognize the DNA signature of about 25% of what’s in our gut so it’s a very alien environment.”

Nature’s antibiotics

Mrs Newby said animals also had unidentified life forms inside their bodies.

“Koalas only digest gum leaves because they have microorganisms in their gut that allow them to ferment the leaves and extract the goodness,” she said.

“The microorganisms get there during birth. The babies eat their mothers’ waste to colonise themselves with the ‘bugs’ that allow them to gain nourishment from their environment, enabling them to live.

“Baby koalas separated from their mothers soon after birth are unable to digest gum leaves and die.

“Humans also get a lot of nourishment from the microorganisms that come from the outside environment into our gut.

“In the earliest years of human existence, infants were born on forest floors so they naturally got a good gulp of mum’s ‘bugs’.

“Only now we’re learning how these aliens inside us are intrinsic to our health. We’ve been led to believe all bugs are bad but many bugs are incredibly important.”

The largest part of our immune system is the gut

Mrs Newby said the largest part of the human immune system was in the gut.

“Our immune system is involved in sensing and tolerating the external environment and it needs to learn how to identify what is good and what is concerning.

“If it doesn’t get exposed to the entirety of the outside environment including the ‘bugs’ we get from our mothers during birth, it learns the wrong lessons.”

Who is Ruth Newby?

Mrs Newby is a USQ medical scientist, nursing lecturer and University of Queensland research fellow.

Her PhD project – Feeding Queensland Babies Study – investigates infant feeding attitudes and behaviours among first-time mothers in Queensland.


Goal for remote nursing helps win Lucy Harris Award

Ngaire Willis’s ambition to work as a nurse in the Torres Strait Islands received a boost with the presentation of the Lucy Harris Award at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ).

The Lucy Harris Award of $1000 was initiated by Dr Vernon Harris to assist student nurses who elect to take clinical experience in Indigenous Australian communities.

“I’m very excited and grateful to receive this award,” Ms Willis of Hervey Bay said.

“My intention is that when I get more experience I’d really like to go remote, especially in the Torres Strait Islands. This award will help towards that.”

Semester 1 recipient Dee Woodgate said the Lucy Harris Award helped her reach her goal to work with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in Charleville.

In June she completed the two-week practical component of the USQ Bachelor of Nursing program with the RFDS in southwest Queensland.

“That was a wonderful experience that helped me grow as a nurse,” Ms Woodgate said.

“It showed me different skills, how to bond with people in rural and remote areas and how to develop and hone the skills needed to work in Indigenous communities.”

USQ Fraser Coast Associate Professor (Nursing) Clint Maloney congratulated Ms Willis and praised the foresight of Dr Harris in providing the ongoing funding initiative.

“This sort of award opens up really good gateways to work in rural and remote areas that students otherwise couldn’t afford to do,” Associate Professor Maloney said.

“It’s a great opportunity for students to make strong connections with rural and remote people, particularly in Indigenous populations.

“The whole premise behind this award is that the student is using it to build a platform of their own professional knowledge they intend to use in professional practice after they graduate.”

Lucy Harris Award

Dr Harris generously donated the award money on behalf of his late wife Lucy who devoted over 30 years of her life to nursing.

She started in 1938 and throughout World War II nursed casualties from the bombing in London and tutored pupil nurses at the Prince of Wales Hospital.

After the war, Mrs Harris was a midwife for three years before starting missionary training with the Church Missionary Society U.K.

In 1951 she went to Nigeria to teach and train nurses for London University’s new University College Hospital, Ibadan.

There she established a children’s ward and assisted Professor Jelliff with research into sickle cell anaemia and child malnutrition. She also established two clinics for Nigerian members of University staff and their children. Mrs Harris left Nigeria in 1959.

In Australia she nursed premature babies at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Canberra, in 1964 and then joined the Canberra District Nursing Service, retiring in 1976.