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People in need lean on Lorna

CHARITABLE LADY: Lorna Hicks offers a helping hand to Emerald residents through the Neighbourhood Centre. file
CHARITABLE LADY: Lorna Hicks offers a helping hand to Emerald residents through the Neighbourhood Centre. file

IF one person is synonymous with care and community on the Central Highlands, it is Lorna Hicks.

With her weekends busier than her work days, Lorna continues to offer a positive attitude and a helping hand to all around her.

Born on a property outside Duaringa, she spent a lot of time working on the property and caring for four younger siblings.

Lorna would ride a pony to school in Duaringa, and for a short time was sent to school in Rockhampton.

When the mine at Bluff closed in 1953, Lorna and her husband relocated to Emerald.

“That was a difficult move, my husband had been on a mine wage, and when we came to Emerald, he was starting on the bottom rung as a cleaner,” she said.

Lorna worked as codirector of the local kindergarten, where she remained for many years.

Lorna’s next appointment was only meant to be a short term contract.

“I took up a position with the Emerald and District Social Development Association in November 1976, knowing there were only six months of Federal Government funding remaining. My husband said I had rocks in my head!”

It is testimony to the importance the community placed on Lorna’s role, her persuasive powers, and willingness to go for months without pay that the centre survived ten years without government funding.

“With help from the shire council, service clubs and the local Gregory Mine we were able to continue our services to the community.”

At the time Lorna took up her position, the association was the only official organisation in Emerald to offer assistance to those in need.

In 1987, the State Government recognised the contribution Lorna was making to the Central Highlands and Lorna commenced her current position as service manager of the Neighbourhood Centre. Some of the services initiated through the centre include the Domestic Violence Service, Disability Services, Outside School Hours Care, Community Visitors Scheme and more.

“The Neighbourhood Centre has been referred to as the ‘birthing suite’ for many services now available to the region.”

One of Lorna’s pet projects is the Linking Alms for Christmas Appeal. This community effort donates goods and some Christmas cheer for others less fortunate in the region.

“People think this is a town of milk and honey, but there are lots of heart-rending stories around Christmas time,” she said.

“I have been a part of so many groups over the years – some highlights have been the trip to Canada for the Sunflower Festival, and forming the Cancer Council, when we couldn’t get enough chairs for all the people who turned up at the first meeting.”

Lorna still holds a fulltime job at 77, and has no plans to slow down.

“I lost my son one Christmas to a heart attack, so I appreciate every day – I am here for a good time.”

With this attitude and energy, Lorna really is an inspiration to us all.

The Inspirational Women project is a joint initiative of the Central Highlands Development Corporation, Central Highlands Regional Council, Westpac and AgForce, and is supported by CQ News.

The project will culminate with a workshop and dinner on March 8 and tickets are available from CHDC on 4982 4386.

FAST FACTS

Born: Rockhampton

Who inspires you: Youth. They are the community of tomorrow and I have so many positive experiences with them. Of course, their knowledge of technology blows me away!

 

Favourite quote: “No worthwhile task is ever begun except by those with a vision. Visionaries however must be practical” – Tucker 1960.

 

If you could invite anyone to dinner, who would it be?: The Governor-General Quentin Bryce, as she is so down to earth.

 

First job: Governess on a property outside Dingo.

I never thought that I would…: I never thought my health would allow me to still be working – I have been blessed in that regard.

“I have been a part of so many groups over the years...”

Lorna Hicks


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