LIFETIME OF SERVICE: Jean Bourke is the longest-serving member of the Mackay branch of the Australian Red Cross. She has been a volunteer with the organisation for 40 years.
LIFETIME OF SERVICE: Jean Bourke is the longest-serving member of the Mackay branch of the Australian Red Cross. She has been a volunteer with the organisation for 40 years. Dominick Czakilew

Red Cross celebrates a 100 years of helping others

THE Australian Red Cross turned 100 yesterday.

By comparison, the longest-serving member of the Mackay branch, Jean Bourke, is young.

With 88 years to her credit, she has volunteered for the organisation for 40 years. And after four decades of service, she has plenty of stories to share.

Mrs Bourke said she first joined the organisation in Calen.

"But I already volunteered before that," she said.

"My mum and I used to sew pillow cases and pyjamas for the hospital.

"We made hundreds of them. I was also working, so we had to sew at night time."

Mrs Bourke said there was one story that stood out for her.

"One time we were preparing sandwiches for an event in Kingaroy," she said.

"A mother, one of the volunteers, received the message she had lost her two sons in the war. It was heartbreaking. Both of them were in the air force.

"I remember their names to this day."

Mrs Bourke said it was important to remember the work of the organisation during the world wars.

"My husband was a returned service airman and he always spoke highly of the Red Cross," she said.

"They were always there on the frontline helping people."

Mrs Bourke said she enjoyed being kind to people.

"I like meeting others and helping them," she said.

"I am a doer, I like being involved."

State Member for Mackay Tim Mulherin said the Red Cross was valuable part of the Mackay community.

"During World War I and World War II the Mackay branch was the best fundraising branch in Queensland," he said.

"In Word War II they raised 35,000 pounds.

"People can support the Red Cross by becoming a volunteer."


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