Thelma has been a dedicated member of Brave Hearts on the Murray since 2005 when she joined the Dragon Boat Building Project and worked assiduously hard each week never missing a session, in the nine months it took to build our beautiful boat. She also was one very enthusiastic paddler learning the art and skills of paddling, despite her crippling physical limitations that many of us would have used as an excuse to just be a spectator.
Thelma didn’t stop with that but then became a very busy committee member who fund-raised madly and at every opportunity represented us and raised the profile of who we were and what we were there for – that is supporting people affected by a cancer diagnosis.
Thelma participated at the International Breast Cancer Regatta in Caloundra in 2007, after being at the helm of a major fund-raiser that raised $7000 towards this trip of a lifetime for our breast cancer survivors and their supporters. This regatta was especially special to Thelma as she was able to be a proud representative of Australia – something she had dreamed about and to think this was her up and coming 70th year!!! The other thrill was she was able to paddle in front of her treasured son David who lives in Queensland. She has also represented Brave Hearts at the Sydney Chinese New Year Festival and at the Hobart Dragons Abreast Festival.
Thelma then successfully took on the role of Coordinator of our very first Dragon Boat Regatta in 2009 and provided an amazing benchmark for us to build on, for our successive regattas. She created the first Regatta Management Manual for this event which has been used for each regatta since and was also acknowledged and utilised by the Victorian Dragon Boat Committee as a standard for other clubs to aspire to. Thelma was presented with an achievement award by Dragon Boat Victoria at their annual dinner in 2009 in recognition of her work coordinating the inaugural Brave Hearts Regatta.
Thelma’s continued participation on the Brave Hearts on the Murray Inc committee and input into other projects have continued to be an important part of her life despite ongoing medical problems affecting her mobility. Her presence at the working bees at the Brave Hearts Memorial Rose Garden and the lake are remembered fondly and who could forget the scrumptious scones and yo-yo biscuits that she always made to keep our energy levels up.
Even though Thelma spent such a long time in hospital she still continued to help out with committee chores from her hospital bed. This remarkable unassuming lady is an outstanding example of an individual having a spirit that will overcome any adversity when others may have given up and a positive caring attitude that constantly lives our motto of love, courage and support. She undeniably has a “brave heart” and is truly a deserving recipient of our Silver Heart Award.