By Bev Jordan
Shirley Purser from Castle Hill was presented with the prestigious Jean Arnot Award from National Council of Women at a special Zonta Says No to Domestic Violence Dinner at Dural last week.
While the 90-year-old volunteer was shocked and surprised by the award no-one else was. The great grandmother has volunteered in the Hills community for nearly 70 years.
A Club director and founding member of the Zonta Club Sydney Hills, Shirley was nominated for the State Award by the women’s group, Soroptimist International The Hills.
The award was in “acknowledgement of her contribution to the advancement of women and her community over many years”, and was presented by Carol Baker from SI of the Hills, Elisabeth Shaw CEO of Relationships Australia NSW and Hills Mayor Michelle Byrne.
Shirley said she was “shocked” by the unexpected award. “It’s in my nature (to volunteer),” she told the Hills to Hawkesbury Community News. “I have a God-given set of gifts which I use mostly to help women and children.
We are the mothers of the future and we have to look after each other and the environment. I feel, often, there is no thought for the future, it is all about what people want now.”
The list of things she has helped start are enormous and include the establishment of the Baulkham Hills Pre-School Kindergarten in Torrs Street which opened in 1963; the Gazelles Netball Club and Castle Hill Sports & Recreation Club.
She was a member Shire Youth Suicide Prevention Committeeو Charter Secretary and member of Pennant (now Dural) Toastmasters Club; Charter member of Zonta Club of Sydney Hills and member for over 42 years. َ
Also, She was a member of the Hills Domestic Violence Prevention Network since 2000; Member of The Hills International Women’s Day Committee since 2007; founding Secretary Western Sydney IWD Breakfast Committee to name a few.
She is still active in many groups in executive roles including secretary of Castle Hill Red Cross.
Her advice: “If something needs to be done, just go and do it.”
Shirley moved to Baulkham Hills as a newlywed with her husband Geoff in 1953, Geoff built their home where Shirley ran her dress-making business.
She started volunteering with Baulkham Hills Guides in 1953, which began her history of volunteering in the Hills including as Chair of The Hills Shire Council 355 Management Committee and running Jazz at the Pines for 15 years.
President of Zonta Sydney Hills, Donna Fraser said: “Shirley is an inspiration to us all. She has dedicated her life to her family and her community.
“In 2004 Shirley designed a soft temporary breast form (TBF) to fit inside the bras of breast cancer patients after they had their mastectomy. Shirley then formed a group of volunteers who have sewing bees at the Westmead Princess Mary Breast Cancer Institute (BCI) to make them. These TBF’s are treasured by the recipients.
“The energy she exudes is boundless and her volunteer achievements are many.”