RSL recognises Marie Hurley, a tireless volunteer
|At the presentation are: Marie’s brother Bill Hardy, NSW Governor Prof Marie Bashir AC CVO, Marie Hurley OAM and her daughters Bernadette and Maureen Hurley.|
Virginia Knight, Catholic Outlook, August 2012
On 4 July this year, Marie Hurley OAM was presented with a 2012 Anzac Day Award at a ceremony at Government House in Sydney. With these awards, the RSL recognises up to seven Australians each year for their outstanding contribution to the community. There were only two awards in NSW.
Marie was acknowledged for her compassionate and selfless service to Nepean Hospital and the community of St Finbar’s Parish, Glenbrook.
After the citations were read, a medallion and framed certificate was presented to each recipient by the NSW Governor, Her Excellency Prof Marie Bashir, AC CVO.
The medallion, which depicts ‘Simpson and his donkey’, is presented in a specially designed case and is accompanied by a bronze miniature lapel badge. During morning tea after the ceremony, Prof Bashir spoke with the award recipients, committee and guests.
Reflecting on this unexpected honour, Marie said she has been involved in voluntary work all of her life and credits her parents, leading their family by example, with her tireless work ethic. “It is in my blood. People turn to me as they know I will try to do something to help,” Marie said.
“I consider the role of the volunteer invaluable in the community, in far too many sections to mention. Almost all people would be disadvantaged without the volunteer, from serving in canteens, to transporting the elderly. It is a rewarding experience for the giver and the receiver.”
This was not the first recognition of Marie’s achievements. This very humble and exceptional lady was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in 2003 for her services to the community.
Reading through her still-growing list of community volunteering it seems her commitment probably began in earnest when she was a young nurse. Graduating from the Mater Hospital in 1953, Marie worked in hospitals in Sydney and New Zealand before commencing employment at Nepean Hospital in 1956.
“A lot of my work was helping the sick in their homes as there was little community nursing support at that time,” she said.
Marie married Jim Hurley in 1962 and moved to Blaxland where he owned a butcher’s shop. “Jim was involved with the St Vincent de Paul Society, Lions Club and the Fire Brigade. And he generously donated my help to everyone who came into the butcher’s shop.
“I was very involved with the sick and needy. Several neighbours and friends needed assistance and there wasn’t a lot of professional help available. Friends would say, ‘If you have to get sick, get sick in Layton Avenue’.”
In February 1970, Jim became ill and died suddenly within two weeks, leaving Marie to care for four children under the age of six on her own.
As we talk, it is evident that Marie still misses Jim’s presence very much. At the time she drew comfort from close family ties with her siblings, five of whom still live locally.
When most people would have felt overwhelmed by events, Marie continued to serve her community, juggling home, work and her volunteer commitments.
Marie’s youngest brother, Bill Hardy, is very proud of her. “She did it tough, raising the children on her own and returned to nursing to support them. She never seems to stop!”
Marie is still involved in committees and projects for Probus, Nepean Hospital and St Finbar’s Parish, mainly in pastoral care. “People talk about retirement but I am still in my family home and I wouldn’t want to live out of the parish as I am too involved.”
Marie has passed on her volunteering legacy to her children. “I am very proud of all my children and what they have achieved. They are now involved with their children in all types of sporting and cultural activities.
“I don’t miss that tearing around one bit. I sit back and watch my children now doing the same. However … I still seem to be tearing around from one thing to another!”
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