Ethel marks 50 years of service

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 20-Dec-2017

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Ethel Gallagher
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St John of God Bendigo Hospital has recognised and celebrated 50 years of service from Ethel Gallagher to the St John of God Bendigo Hospital Auxiliary.

Every year the auxiliary raises funds for equipment to support the care of patients. 

This has added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

No glitz or glamour though, just through sheer effort and dogged persistence.

In early 1967 a sprightly young lady joined the Mt Alvernia Hospital Ladies Auxiliary. 

This was merely the official start to her volunteering with the auxiliary. 

In practice she and her husband Jim had been helping the FMDM Sisters and the hospital from before it opened in 1961.

Mrs Gallagher has seen significant amounts of change in her time as part of the auxiliary, as volunteers service manager James Breene said.

“I’m conscious that her support for our organisation, via the auxiliary, has spanned all the chapters of our hospital,” Mr Breene said. 

“This includes the first 36 years with the Franciscan Missionaries of Divine Motherhood, the eight years we were part of the Mercy family and the past 11 years with St John of God.

While fundraising has been a major focus of the effort Mrs Gallagher has given, the whole Gallagher family were also involved in getting the hospital up and running in the early 1960s, with her late husband Jim’s brickwork still part of the hospital.

“Ethel helped sew curtains for St Francis House before it had even opened and also helped commission the new hospital on this campus in 1971,” Mr Breene said.

Mrs Gallagher turned 89 this year and while she has eight children, 17 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren of her own, she has always seen the hospital as an extension of her family.

“I’ve always thought of Mount Alvernia as my child. And then Mt Alvernia Mercy was my grandchild. And now St John of God is my great grandchild,” she said.

Mr Breene has said that the hospital simply wouldn’t have come to fruition without the dedication of people such as Mrs Gallagher.

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