THE THREE AMIGOS
Suzy Watson, Chris Thomas and Jenny Black
Founding and Life Members of Brave Hearts on the Murray Inc.
Ten years ago Chris Thomas (a much loved volunteer at the Murray Valley Chemotherapy Unit at the time), watched the uplifting movie Calendar Girls and immediately believed that Albury Wodonga could produce its own calendar and in the process raise money to provide extra services and resources for cancer patients in our local region.
She invited a talented professional photographer – Suzy Watson and a then Regional Breast Cancer Nurse, Jenny Black, to come on board and live her dream.
The overwhelming success of this amazing calendar – Brave Hearts Faces of Love Courage and Support saw the birth of Brave Hearts on the Murray Inc. and the beginning of a rewarding journey that has witnessed so many special projects involving an inspiring group of women and men who have been touched by a cancer diagnosis and who very aptly stand by their name – Brave Hearts.
Now – ten years later – the three of them feel privileged to work alongside this remarkable and ever growing crew and are constantly reminded each day of their commitment to this cause, their invincible spirit, zest for life, courage and tenacity and are proudly in awe of Brave Hearts on the Murray’s achievements since its inception.
They are also indebted to our very generous community who help Brave Hearts on the Murray Inc. fulfil our dreams of assisting people in our region who are gong through the inherent challenges of dealing with cancer.
They thank all for travelling on this remarkable journey with them so that they could fulfil their dream.
Mike has been an integral part of Brave Hearts activities since its inception after being inspired by his wife Suzy Watson’s wonderful effort in the calendar project. Mike found his opportunity to become more fully involved in Brave Hearts’ activities when the dragon boat project became a reality. He was a valuable assistant in the construction of the boat and then the move into coaching seemed he natural progression.
Since then he has with his gentle patient manner, guided, taught and coached many Brave hearts and many other community members in the finer art of paddling and sweeping a dragon boat.
His respect and admiration for Brave Hearts’ members and their achievements is unwavering. He even lovingly towed the precious hand made dragon boat 1500 kms to the 2007 International Dragons Abreast Regatta in Caloundra because he understood how much the proud Brave Hearts’ girls wished to show the world what they had achieved, despite their cancer diagnosis.
As coach it has been difficult for Mike at some ties to weigh up being competitive and embracing the difficulties that members face due to their different circumstances. . He always asks that they strive to do better, but he has always put the person before the trophy and keenly weighs up each situation in front of him. In the end, it is always the good for all that wins with him.
Mike has been inspirational in the way that he goes about supporting our organisation. He has championed our cause in every project that we have ever been involved in. He has put the organisation in front of his livelihood on many occasions and has taken a “million” hours out of his profession so that he can assist us in any way possible. He was a key driver of our Celebration Garden project and is the first person to put his hand up to help with any project – whether it is Brave Heats specific or Brave Hearts Dragon Boat Club projects – often in the background, setting up and then disappearing into the sunset! He always gives 110% and it is evident by the number of times he answers our requests for help that his own business has suffered.
Throughout his involvement, Mike has always shown kindness to others. He is extremely mindful of members, especially those recovering from treatment and gives them space when needed most. He will always give people the benefit of the doubt and will always support them when questioned by others.
The vision he has for our organisation is outstanding. He truly believes in the spirit of Brave Hearts and what we represent. Mike is a wonderful example of someone who (thankfully) has not been touched by cancer himself – but shows great empathy towards other who have. He’s a kind, nice human being. He actually isn’t silver – he’s pure gold.
One of the original “Calendar Girls”! Di is one of God’s beautiful people and has been a Brave Heart in the true sense of the word since day one.
Di is a very gentle and compassionate person, very considerate of those around her and always sympathetic to their needs. She quietly will send an appropriate message out of the blue, when needed.
Being passionate and generous of heart, Di is a great advocate for the organisation’s cause, and drawing on that passion is always willing to create public awareness for our cause, publicly speaking on many occasions representing Brave Hearts on the Murray either for Breast Cancer awareness or representing the Brave Hearts Dragon Boat Club.
On numerous occasions Di has met survivors in person to give them support and encouragement on their cancer journey. Being an inspiring survivor herself, gives her great insight into the nurturing of a new comer’s needs. She constantly imparts positivity and strength and this dedication and contribution to supporting survivors is invaluable.
Di is the willing face behind any fundraiser – big or small – and has given outstanding support in Brave Heart on the Murray projects, especially the calendar, building the beautiful dragon boat and the rose garden project. Di also enjoys and is a very willing participant in community link projects such as Field of Women, Pink Days, Relay for Life and the Mother’s Day Classic.
Although a devoted wife to Bob, a busy Mum of four daughters, a grandmother to a gorgeous grandson and in full time employment, Di will always step up and help out whenever she can. Di in the past has always been on the dragon boat committee of which she has been Vice President and now currently serves as the Secretary of Brave Hearts on the Murray Inc. as well as being an active member of the dragon boat club.
She is, without a doubt a worthy recipient of a Silver Heart.
Another original “Calendar Girl”. Jodie was so impressed by the drive and passion of the original Brave Hearts, she “signed on” with an important input into the calendar, and then became an invaluable part of the crew to help build our first dragon boat.
A talented word-smith with wonderful empathy, Jodie has been able to instil hope and positivity to others travelling on a cancer journey and her memorable “Sink or Swim” and “Brave” articles are still lovingly rekindled to inspire new survivors. These writing talents are being utilised again as she is currently involved in helping survivors tell their stories through our current inspirational book project. Jodie has been strongly involved in the dragon boat club and served as Treasurer for several years. As the Dragon Boat Regatta Coordinator for two years, her great legacy was to create a professional management plan for successive coordinators to follow.
On many occasions, Jodie has created public awareness of the Brave Hearts’ cause through the media and public speaking and has always been a caring and supportive person to all members of the Brave Hearts community. We have always been in awe of how she juggles her time between being a wonderful wife, mother, nurse and very willing active advocate for Brave Hearts.
Jodie is currently now one of our community’s respected McGrath Breast Care Nurses. Her expertise in nursing accompanied by her own experiences as a cancer survivor makes her the perfect candidate for her position. Jodie’s valued continual support for Brave Hearts together with her caring and supporting nature makes her an invaluable member of our organisation.
Robyn is the epitome of volunteering and was even recognised by the broader community on Australia Day this year having been awarded Albury City’s Volunteer of the Year. She is forever willing to give of her best at all times. She is kind to all and always sees the good in people. She has given muchof her time to other members – always looking to ensure their safety and well-being.
Robyn has always supported Brave Hearts’ projects. Together with her work with the Albury Wodonga Breast Cancer Support Group (AWBCSG), she has given her all. She actually finds it difficult to separate the two groups as many members belong to both.
Robyn knows no boundaries. She gives 200% to her volunteering efforts and Brave Hearts makes up 150%. Wherever she goes she shares her view that Brave Hearts is the best thing that happened to Albury Wodonga. She wears Brave hearts on her sleeve and in her heart. She has been involved in every project of Brave Hearts post Calendar. She is exuberant in her attitude towards the organisation and outwardly proclaims the true worth of Brave Hearts within our community and beyond.
She is an active member of the Dragon Boat Regatta committee and gives appreciative time each year to its cause. In her volunteering work with AWBCSG and Breast Cancer Network Australia, there is always a very big space on her beautiful stalls for Brave Hearts. She constantly promotes what we do and what we stand for and is also instrumental in distributing our brochures throughout the community.
Robyn always thinks of others before herself and gives other people her time before she thinks of doing something for herself. She is another amazing human being so worthy of recognition.
What would we do without our Bob? He has been exceptional in the way he has given service to the organisation and has always been a quiet achiever in the background since our journey started.
Throughout his association with our organisation, Bob has always shown kindness to others. As his wife has experienced the turmoil of having breast cancer, he has a special affinity with cancer survivors. This has given Bob an insight into how members are coping at various times throughout their membership – whether they are new members perhaps in the throes of treatment or “seasoned” members having come through treatment and hopefully on their way to good health. Whatever their stage in wellness, Bob seems to sense their predicament and approaches them accordingly and always with kindness.
Bob has always supported Brave Hearts’ projects. Many a time he has been there – at times after having had a long haul on the road for many hours with his truck business, there is Bob willing to help out in any way he can. He is always there by his wife’s side, wanting to help out in any way he can. Like Mike, having his own business has been difficult for him – difficult in the fact the he has sometimes chosen to be with Brave Hearts rather than take an extra load on the road. This is his livelihood, yet he continues to put Brave Hearts at the top of his list. Not once, but on many occasions.
Bob is a mainstay in our Regatta. He takes the time to give of his time in so many ways. He is always there for those less fortunate and on occasions displays his emotions on his sleeve. He has delivered many a stirring and inspirational presentation on Regatta day.
He is also instrumental in the success of keeping our “Pleasure Cruises” alive. He gives the participants so much joy by the way he conducts himself each week – encouraging them in a light-hearted way. He inspires people to do better and feel good about themselves. This is one of the core ingredients that keeps Brave Hearts Dragon Boat Club so much alive within our community.
Bob is a wonderful example of someone who (thankfully) has not been touched by cancer himself – but shows great empathy towards others who have. He is the essence of goodness in our organisation and exudes a vibrancy and willingness to give and we all learn dearly from him. He’s one of earth’s angels and it is obvious that Bob has faith in mankind and he never fails to show that to us all. Bob has never held an official membership of a committee but is a member of the committee of life, as it should be.
We know he’ll wear his Silver Heart with great pride.
Associated with Brave Hearts since 2006, Fiona is another member who is a silent achiever and one that there is no measure of time, love and support that she gives to Brave Hearts on the Murray Inc.
Fiona has brilliant administrative skills and fine attention to detail, which is why she currently has the role of Super Treasurer. She spends endless hours behind the scenes fulfilling her role as our astute treasurer a well as a loyal and passionate member. Her position of Treasurer of both Brave Hearts on the Murray and Brave Hearts Dragon Boat Club, which she has held since 2008, has many inherent responsibilities. This is not only in the accounting field but also in ensuring that this incorporated body is answerable to the Consumer Affairs Victoria and the Australian Tax Office in carrying out the affairs of the charitable organisation within their rules and guidelines.
Fiona has spent many hours working closely with auditors and legal people to ensure this transparency as well as giving her time freely in the many projects that our charitable non for profit organisation has achieved. Prior to being Treasurer Fiona was Vice President of Brave Hearts on the Murray Inc.
Fiona always volunteers to help at fundraising activities and regattas. Fiona is committed to providing assistance to all Brave Heart projects. She was always on the Dragon Bloat committee even though she didn’t paddle. Following Brave Hearts’ restructure this year Fiona now totally devotes her expertise and time to Brave Hearts on the Murray Inc. and is the Treasurer of both organisations.
Fiona is a beautiful warm fun loving person. She enjoys a laugh and creates a very relaxed atmosphere socially. She is a big advocate for the organisation’s cause. She promotes Brave Hearts wherever she goes. Fiona is also involved with Breast Cancer Network Australia as a Community Liaison Officer as well as being our representative. She always represents Brave Hearts at a high standard.
Fiona’s award as Volunteer of the Year for Yackandandah and Region within the Indigo Shire proves her commitment to Brave hearts and her community and her ongoing efforts to promote Brave Hearts. She is a firm but fair character. She always places the best interests of Brave Hearts above anything else.
You cannot find a more genuine person than Fiona. She oozes charm, love and warmth and her dedication is impeccable. Fiona is pure gold, and to acknowledge that, we present her with the Silver Heart.
Pauline has volunteered and assisted tirelessly since the calendar days of Brave Hearts. Pauline is another individual in whom you cannot measure the amount of love, support and time she has given to the organisation.
She has been outstanding in her acts of kindness, love, courage and support over and above anything anyone could expect to be given in an organisation, all whilst dealing with her own life issues. Throughout this journey, Pauline has been Treasurer, Secretary and Vice President of Brave Hearts and currently holds the position of Brave Hearts Dragon Boat Club Coordinator.
Pauline continuously creates public awareness of our organisation and tirelessly endeavours to build awareness of who we are and what we aim to achieve.
Pauline has, and continues to give outstanding and dedicated support to all Brave Heart projects, particularly caring for other members during recovery, supporting new members, and throwing her energy behind the Rose Garden, Dragon Boat Club, Lake Development, Coordination of the Dragon Boat Club whilst supporting new and old members, making sure people enjoy and benefit from being part of the experience of being a Brave heart.
Pauline is a stoic member being totally dedicated towards never letting our members forget what our organisation is really about – Love, Courage, Support, Leisure Cruising and Community Awareness. Nominated for her outstanding vision and continued passion for our great cause as a foundation Calendar girl, Pauline has been an inspiration for us all with her dedication, compassion, understanding, professionalism, leadership, and communication skills. Her ability to make all members feel inclusive within the group is an important asset to the club. We know she will proudly wear her Silver Heart.
Always on hand to volunteer at any fundraising function we hold – whether it be for dragon boating or Brave Hearts on the Murray project fundraising, Mel has been a member of Brave Hearts since 2008. Mel is a very kind and thoughtful woman. She is ever mindful of others’ feelings and is very protective towards those who need some tender loving care at appropriate times.
Mel promotes our organisation with fervour. She has a great capacity to include Brave Hearts in any conversation she has with anyone. Her enthusiasm never wanes. She is first to put her hand up for any assistance she can give, whether this be as a participant in a working bee, doing some onerous administration task or talking to people about our organisation. She helps at all fundraising activities and Brave hearts literally is her family outside of her family.
She is committed to informing all of our members of anything that she feels is important to them and happily passes on any relevant information by email to them all. Mel is our Newsletter “whiz kid” and sends the communications to all members weekly, as well as to many “Friends of Brave Hearts on the Murray”. We would like to say that Mel has a very healthy addiction to our organisation, and long may it continue.
To sum up this warm, caring, funny, devoted member, she has a heart of pure gold, is a committee member of Brave Hearts on the Murray Inc., member of Brave Hearts Dragon Boat Club and a member of Brave Hearts Dragon Boat Regatta Committee. If there were any more committees, she’d also be on them!
Judy has probably volunteered for every fundraising function that we have ever held. She has also organised a number of smaller functions to raise money for Brave Hearts, including having planner parties where the hostess money is given to Brave Hearts.
Judy is a very thoughtful and caring individual, she always looks for the best in people, and even if that’s hard to find she treats them with kindness anyway! She is always willing to help anyone in need and she is there by members’ sides, even though they may not know she’s there. Judy is a quiet achiever and would rather stay busily in the background than be up front.
Judy is instrumental in bringing our cause to the attention of many members of our community, including those of the local soccer clubs. They in turn continue to donate generously to Brave Hearts. She is always there when we fundraise or promote Brave Hearts and gives of her time to many of our projects. She does so with enthusiasm and a genuine wish to please. She is a tireless worker and is such a proud Brave Heart.
Judy also has looked after our merchandise since we started selling items, and this has grown over the years. This is a tiresome task at times as it means that she has to keep an accurate account of what has been sold and puts in orders at short notice.
Judy has been on the Brave Hearts Dragon Boat Committee from the beginning. She takes an active role in the running of the club, having for a number of years acted as Secretary. She has up until a couple of months ago been our representative on the Lake Users Group Committee and she has successfully kept us informed of matters arising from their meetings.
Judy promotes and supports every facet of Brave Hearts and breast cancer awareness
She supports and encourages those she meets in an understanding and sympathetic manner. He is a very hard worker an always prepared to go the extra mile, a good communicator, is well organised and is simply a beautiful person. For all her attributes, constant achievements and continuous support to Brave Hearts, Judy is such a worthy Silver Heart recipient.