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Florence Nightingale Awards, Government House, Canberra - 5 December, 2017

When Chair and Founding Member, Anita Pahor heard that recipients of the 2017 Florence Nightingale Awards and their families may not be able to attend the award ceremony in person, she knew that something had to be done.

A quick phone call to a number of SWL Members who had not yet left on Christmas break resulted in enough extra donations to be able to fund flights for the award recipients to go to Canberra and receive their medals from the Governor General himself. And so it was that SWL’s very own Kerry-Anne Johnston, Kate O’Callaghan, Rowena McGilvray, Caroline Furlong and Anita Pahor found themselves also making the trip to Canberra to represent our circle of giving and show support to the five aid workers who received their medals.

It’s difficult to explain how it felt to sit alongside family members as the five recipients stepped forward to receive words of praise and thanks from His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia and Patron of Australian Red Cross for their brave and tireless efforts to help thousands of wounded and ill people across the world. The air was heavy with a sense of vindication and appreciation for the aid workers and their families that their sacrifices did not go unnoticed and for a brief moment, under the roof of Government House, on a cool summer morning, it felt as though the entire nation stopped to give honour and respect to where it was due.

Following the moving ceremony, the five SWL Members present hosted the five Florence Nightingale Award recipients and their families together with the President of Australian Red Cross, Ross Pinney at a celebratory lunch. When medal recipient, Anne Carey, on behalf of her fellow Florence Nightingale Award recipients, delivered the formal vote of thanks at the lunch, her words to all of us in SWL “To the passionate SWL women behind the lines that through their advocacy and funding allow us to go to the frontline, we thank you” ensured that there wasn’t a dry eye in the room and increased our resolve to do more to support this life-saving work.

SWL warmly congratulates Anne Carey, Catherine Fry, Ruth Jebb, Barbara McMaster and Catherine Salmon. We also thank Founding Member, Lisa Blundell, who was not able to attend the ceremony but still provided funds with the other members to allow the event to happen.