Marvelle Kerslake, OAM.
Marvelle Kerslake, OAM.

60 years of volunteering recognised with OAM

MARVELLE Kerslake is a fixture in the community of Mitchell, and it is a town made all the better for having her in it.

For six decades, the now 82-year-old has generously volunteered her time - and her formidable culinary skills - to countless groups which needed a hand, and for her dedication to her town, has been honoured with an Order of Australia Medal.

Mrs Kerslake has been a volunteer, an advocate, lobbyist, and a leader; the state school, fishing club, show society, Meals on Wheels group, hospital auxiliary, and so many more have benefited from her support since she moved to Mitchell along with her husband Ron in 1958.

"Ron worked for a fellow named Pat Wise, who encouraged me to start working at the school, and I have worked for the community more or less every since," Mrs Kerslake said.

"I have been part of Meals on Wheels, I was very involved in that, being president for 12 years, and am still vice president; I have been for five years now.

"I had also been in the show committee, the (Rutland) rodeo committee, and I can't even name them all, there has been that many."

Mrs Kerslake's children and grandchildren made the trip back to Mitchell from all corners of the state to see her presented with her award at the local Australia Day celebration.

Marvelle Kerslake OAM with son Wes Kerslake and daughter Brenda Jamnik.
Marvelle Kerslake OAM with son Wes Kerslake and daughter Brenda Jamnik.

All of her children have fond memories of their mum running the weekly tuckshop at Mitchell State School in the 1960s; Mrs Kerslake made all of the pies and pastries herself, and the money from the sales went towards building a permanent canteen on campus.

Later, in 1977, she was also instrumental in lobbying for a subsidised school bus route for Mitchell's students, so they could be able to study years 11 and 12.

Today, the bus still drives 90km each way every morning and afternoon, with more students than it carried in the early days.

Mrs Kerslake's influence can be seen throughout the Mitchell community: she advocated for low-risk prisoners to be brought out west for work - a program which continues in the town today, served in the volunteer fire brigade, cared for elderly residents to ensure they would not be isolated, helped found the fishing club, and lobbied for a specialist aged care wing of the Mitchell Hospital, known as the Booringa Wing.

For Mrs Kerslake's daughter Brenda Jamnik, Australia Day was a proud one, having grown up seeing her mum give back tirelessly to her community.

"For mum to receive this award today is so deserved," she said.

"Mum has put a lot in to the community which people have seen, and a lot that they have not seen too.

"I am so pleased she is getting this award, because some people do volunteering work for a short amount of time, but she has been doing it for 60 years, for so many different things - it is amazing."