Humbled and grateful, Pat Russell dedicated more than 20 years of service to Make A Wish Bundaberg and on Australia Day she received an Order of Australia Medal.
Joining the charity in 1994 Pat said it was her time as a teacher aid at Bundaberg South State School that motivated her to devote her years after retirement to helping local children and their families.
For two decades she was the driving force behind assisting children with life-threatening illnesses receive a wish.
“I am so grateful that I had the privilege to help these children and their families,” Pat said.
“During my time at school I saw a couple of things and lost a few children in grade 1 and 2.
“I thought there must be something I can do, we should be able to make a difference and so I became involved in Make A Wish.
“It was my love of children that drew me to it.”
During her time at Make A Wish Pat oversaw more than 100 wishes, and she said this in itself was reward enough.
“During my time I did receive a lot of awards – this was the smile on the children’s faces each time after they received their wish – that was my reward,” Pat said.
“I was involved with more than 100 wishes in the local area.
“There was something special about helping with Make A Wish, so I joined and gave 100 per cent from there.
“We fundraised a lot and we were the highest in Queensland at one stage. We had a wonderful band of volunteers.”
Pat Russell dedicates more than 20 years
The great-grandmother was president of Make A Wish Bundaberg Branch for 18 years, and she committed just over 21 years of service.
In 2008 Pat was inducted into the Make A Wish Hall of Fame after 14 years of service.
She was recognised for fostering great local connections and support, while she also helped establish the Fraser Coast Branch, earning her two additional nominations in 2008 for the Australian of the Year and Premier's Award for Queensland Seniors.
Make A Wish branch volunteer peers at the time said Pat was always first to arrive at meetings and helped make every volunteer feel like the most important part of the organisation. This leadership followed her through to retirement.
Make-A-Wish CEO Sally Bateman thanked Pat for the outstanding role she provided during her time with the charity.
“Patricia was a valuable member of the Make-A-Wish Wish Force from 1994 to 2015,” Sally said.
“She helped the Bundaberg Branch make wishes possible for so many seriously ill children in the Bundaberg Region.”
Pat Russell, now 82, said she was honoured to receive the OAM, and she felt overwhelmed by the nomination, and she thanked the dedicated Make A Wish volunteers who helped families along the way.
“This is very touching, and I am so grateful that I had the privilege,” she said.
“I want to thank all the people that have been involved.”
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