“Total amazement,” was the way in which Air Force Memorial Estate resident Deidre Russell reacted to the news that she is to receive an Order of Australia Medal for service to the community in September.
“I just couldn’t believe it,” says 82-year-old Deidre, who has been a member of RAAFA’s Bull Creek community for almost six years. “It was a total surprise as my good friend of over 50 years decided to put in an application, and asked my children to assist her.
“Apparently it took several months to compile the application, but I knew nothing about it.”
And it’s little wonder that the honour of an OAM is being bestowed on Deidre. She has volunteered her time with various community organisations for many decades, including the Willetton Uniting Church choir, and the Country Women’s Association, where she directs the choir at the Applecross Mount Pleasant Branch every week. She is also a past Chairman of the Royal School of Church Music (WA), having occupied the role as secretary prior to that.
In her spare time, she organises over 25 concerts a year at local nursing homes and is a Life Member of the WA Government Schools Music Society.
Deirdre’s love of music, particularly the piano and organ, began when she started having lessons at seven years of age when she was growing up in South Australia. As a teenager, she was very active in her church choir and the associated youth club.
“Both mine and all of my friends’ lives revolved around the church choir,” recalls Deidre who is a proud mum to three children, grandmother to eight, and great grandmother to one. And in fact – two of her grandchildren have attended the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts - WAAPA.
Although the former music teacher retired 15 years ago, she still helps to organise school music concerts, which she says are “great fun.”
“Music has always been very prominent in my life and that of my family,” said Deidre. “In fact you could say music has been the driving force in everything I’ve done, and I was very fortunate that my husband Murray, who sadly died last year, completely supported me.
“I’ve had a couple of strokes unfortunately but I try not to let that slow me down, and I’m absolutely overwhelmed to have been advised of my Order of Australia Medal, I’m very much looking forward to accepting it from the Governor in just a few weeks’ time.”
Huge congratulations Deidre from everyone at RAAFA, your contribution to music and your community is nothing short of outstanding.