Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Caring's natural for Berrigan's Marion Dickins

Being recognised as a hardworking and dedicated volunteer is a very humbling experience, and it is one to which Berrigan’s Marion Dickins (pictured) has recently become accustomed to.

HANNAH NICHOLS December 27, 2013 4:20am

Marion Dickins.

Berrigan’s Marion Dickins and Jerilderie’s Lucy Sweeney are among 96 women to be named on the Hidden Treasures Honour Roll this year.

The honour roll is a unique way to formally acknowledge the efforts of rural, regional and remote women and celebrate volunteering as an important community value.

It’s a way of saying ‘thank you’ to all the quiet achievers, the women who are so often the backbone of our State.

The Department of Primary Industries’ Rural Women’s Network initiated Hidden Treasures in 2010 to start a record of rural women’s volunteering as well as pay tribute to those who unselfishly contribute millions of hours of unpaid work to our State.

It is a snapshot of the broad and diverse range of volunteering activities that occur including fundraising, delivering meals to the elderly, fighting fires, driving patients, mentoring the young, creating community artworks or coordinating events.

Journalist Hanah Nichols spoke with both women, to be able to share their stories.

Being recognised as a hardworking and dedicated volunteer is a very humbling experience, and it is one to which Berrigan’s Marion Dickins (pictured) has recently become accustomed to.

The already humble Mrs Dickins recently received notification that she had been nominated and selected for the 2013 Department of Primary Industries, Hidden Treasures Honour Roll.

Mrs Dickins said it had been a huge surprise to honoured in such a unique way.

‘‘There are a lot of deserving people, and to receive the letter of notification was very nice.

‘‘I guess volunteering has been around from the beginning ... it came from my family.

‘‘I came from a family who were very community minded and very involved in our community.

‘‘If you don’t volunteer you won’t have a community.’’

Mrs Dickins, a trained nurse, has a long association with the health industry and it is this association that has helped stem her passion for helping others.

‘‘I joined the Hospital Auxiliary 46 years ago and I had a great mentor in Joan Davis,’’ she said.

‘‘After I finished work, I was able to volunteer more of my time.

‘‘I have had a long association with health – it is interesting and you meet so many different people.’’

Mrs Dickins has been involved with the Red Cross fulfilling many duties including a member of the Disaster Team.

She has also played an important part in keeping funds from the sale of the Guide Hall in the Berrigan community.

‘‘The Abbott family (previous owners of the Guide Hall) left the building in trust to the women of Berrigan.

‘‘I assisted and worked hard to ensure the proceeds of the sale stayed in the community.’’

Mrs Dickins said volunteering has provided her with an ‘‘enjoyment’’.

‘‘It is a wonderful sense of achievement.

‘‘I am thankful that I have good health behind me and the ability to continue to be involved with organisations in the community.

‘‘I wouldn’t have done this without the support of my husband. We are both community minded and that makes a difference.’’

The Honour Role organisers described Mrs Dickins as ‘‘an extraordinary person who has been involved in the community volunteering for over 40 years, holding many executive positions and working tirelessly for each committee’’.

She has been an Australian Red Cross vice president and a Red Cross Disaster Team Member, attending to flood and cyclone victims for Hay, Deniliquin and Mulwala.

Since the 1980s, she has held the following positions with the Uniting Church – Elder, Church Council Secretary and Chairperson, Sacrament Celebrant, Member of the Lay Preaching Team, Property and Finance Chairperson, Child Safety Contact, Pastoral Care Leader; President of the United Hospital Auxiliary, Regional Representative and State President.

She is also heavily involved in the Heritage Museum as the publicity officer and is on the fundraising committee.

Mrs Dickins has also been involved in Girl Guides and was instrumental in the establishment of their new building in 1979. When Guides closed in 2010, Marion made sure proceeds of the Guide Hall sale were retained for community activities.

She was a member of the Berrigan Public School P&C and Ladies Auxiliary from 1970-1980, a trainer at the football club 1990-1998, and secretary of the MPS committee which raised funds and built a facility for the doctor, dentist and ambulance.

Mrs Dickins offered one final piece of advice to readers – ‘‘you are only as good as the team’’.

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