On a Wednesday in 1991, the Man in Black played a charity concert for the Nurses in Blue.
The impromptu concert at Stanthorpe’s Civic Centre – featuring country music legend Johnny Cash, his wife June Carter-Cash, and son John Carter-Cash – raised $10,000 for the Stanthorpe Blue Nurses.
Johnny Cash, who had been on tour in Australia with The Highwaymen, took time out to visit Stanthorpe, where the Blue Nurses had provided care for some friends.
“They do a very, very invaluable service to the community and to the area here, taking care of the elderly,” he said at the time. “And my mother died about three months ago, and she had to have this same kind of care that the Blue Nurses provide, so this is really close to my heart today.”
The Cash family are just one in a long list of big-hearted fundraisers and donors who have supported BlueCare since our inception in 1953.
Proudly not for profit, BlueCare is driven by a genuine desire to serve Queenslanders and improve the lives of those in need. Here are some of the ways our supporters have made that possible over the years.
The first car for the Blue Nursing Service, a second-hand Hillman, was donated by Redman Motors on Christmas Eve. Before this, the Blue Nurses had been getting around Brisbane via tram and borrowed cars, or were driven by volunteers, with the Queensland Motor Cyclists Club offering “speedy” transport in case of emergency.
Over the years, many more community businesses and organisations have donated or sponsored cars so our bright team in blue could reach more people across the state. One example is the Rotary Club of Stones Corner in Brisbane, who gifted the Blue Nursing Service the car pictured above in 1981, using proceeds from its Carindale Art Show.
Evan Hooper, who was administrator of the Rockhampton Blue Nursing Service in the 1970s, recalls the tremendous support from the local community.
“At one point in time, we had 17 vehicles in our fleet and all 17 were sponsored by service clubs and other organisations, such as Rotary and Apex and Lions in Rockhampton,” Mr Hooper says.
“Local car firms and local service clubs took pride in local ownership – they knew that they were helping Blue Nursing Rockhampton, and they were proud to do that, and were proud to see their name on the vehicles.”
Like Johnny Cash, members of the community have rallied around BlueCare over the years to hold fundraising events ranging from concerts to car rallies and everything in between.
In 2015, the Beaudesert BlueCare Auxiliary raised $4000 through their charity music event Jazz and Swing at Bigriggen, featuring Beaudesert pianist Mike Woollett and dance hall band The Undecided, plus a hot lunch.
And in our 70th year, the 23rd David Hack Classic took place in Toowoomba, with 444 vehicles, 26 motorcycles and 27 aircraft gathered at Toowoomba Airport to help raise money for charities including BlueCare. The event was held in honour of David Hack, a young man who loved classic cars and aircraft but sadly passed away from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Thanks to the Toowoomba North Rotary Club, the David Hack Classic has been running since 1999. We are grateful for the efforts of all the community fundraisers who support us.
Among the many wonderful people who have given of their time freely to raise money for BlueCare are the all-important BlueCare Auxiliaries. From cars to cookbooks, these hard-working volunteers go the extra mile to make life easier for us and the people we support.
Take the Caloundra Auxiliary – this wonderful group of selfless people are truly inspiring. Over the years, their fundraising events have included fashion shows, bus trips, fetes, sausage sizzles, raffles of homemade rugs, jams and Christmas cakes, as well as sales of the BlueCare Cookbook.
Team representative Cedric Gowlett says: “I think they all know that they’re doing something for the community.”
Their efforts have supported: the Wound Clinic at Caloundra Community; a ceiling hoist for a client; equipment for younger NDIS clients to learn life skills; outdoor furniture for the Gympie and Caloundra Respite Centres; activity equipment for Caloundra Aged Care Facility; decor and furniture for Dicky Beach Respite Centre; and the gardening group. For more than 25 years they have assisted our clients by quietly working in the background, as have countless other auxiliaries over the years.
We held our first fundraising door-knock appeal in 1958, and it became an annual event. The 1960 appeal day flyer (pictured above) shows how the house to house appeal in Brisbane supported our seven-days-a-week home nursing services for the aged sick, as part of a Ministry of Healing in the name of the church.
Mr Hooper recalls that the Rockhampton Blue Nursing Service’s annual door-knock appeal, which began in 1962, was the service’s principal fundraiser. “Again, the support was there because the local people knew they were supporting their local Blue Nursing service, and they wanted to see their local Blue Nursing service thrive.”
Over the years, the rise of the cashless society and the occasional over-enthusiastic dog made BlueCare become more inventive. In 2018, BlueCare Canowindra launched a “dogless door-knock”, setting up a donation desk at Kingaroy Shoppingworld to raise funds for outdoor chairs, wheelchairs, shower chairs and doll therapy.
At the time, fundraiser Susan Mortimer told the local paper: “These days a lot of people don’t keep cash at home, and this trend is only increasing. So we decided an old-fashioned doorknock had its day and it would be more convenient for most people to run this year’s appeal where they shop instead.”
History is often written in books or carved in stone, but sometimes it’s printed in fabric and hung over an oven door handle. The State Library of Queensland has an amazing collection of historic tea towels from across Queensland and one of them is a great example from the Charters Towers Blue Nursing Service (pictured above). Each tea towel sold represented a local community’s efforts to raise funds for those in need.
Also in the State Library’s collection is the Kingaroy Nanango Blue Nursing Service Recipe Book, compiled by the Blue Nursing Service Auxiliary in the 1980s. It came complete with a foreward by Senator F.I. Bjelke-Petersen (later known as Lady Flo), where she pays tribute to the work of the Blue Nurses: “From Cairns to Coolangatta, the Blue Nurses provide a unique medical and nursing service – combining the skills and experience of trained sisters with the understanding and patience needed for the total care of their fellow man.” It also includes her signature recipe for pumpkin scones!
Gifts and donations
Gifts come in many different forms. A gift can look like a monetary donation, a meaningful conversation, or a hand-made item. This year, Murri Ministry created hand-knitted beanies and blankets (pictured above) for the residents of our Pinangba Ny-Ku-Byun Elders Village. Gifts like these are a warm symbol of love and thoughtfulness. We thank all those who donate their time and energy to help improve the lives of those we care for. These gifts help remind our residents that they are deeply cared for.
Of course, monetary donations mean you can empower more people to live life their way with BlueCare. Although much of the work we do is these days made possible through government funding and client contributions, it’s the financial support of our donors that helps us deliver the services that do not receive any or only partial funding. Your gift can provide a little extra joy to the people we support in our aged care residences or care for in their home or nearby community centre. You can donate here:
BlueCare is proudly part of UnitingCare, the health and community services arm of the Uniting Church. The church and its congregations have long been supporters of the work we do, from the very early days when Reverend Arthur Preston of the West End Methodist Church charged the first Blue Nurse, Sister Olive Crombie, with visiting people in their homes, to the many, many members of the BlueCare auxiliaries who baked cakes and silk-screened tea towels to sell at market stalls or knocked on doors to raise funds.
Each year on August 20, Uniting Church congregations celebrate BlueCare Sunday. It is a special day to reflect on the very important role of aged care in our community and the life-changing legacy of Sister Olive. And some of the dollars added to the collection plate on BlueCare Sunday help to carry care for older Australians, and those who are vulnerable and alone, into the future.
Over the years, the Blue Nursing Service has done the rounds of expos and shows, raising awareness and rattling the tin at events across the state, from a display at the Queensland Industries’ Fair in 1959 (pictured above) to the occasion of the Royal Silver Jubilee visit of HRH Prince Charles to Brisbane in 1977. Even the Ekka was a source of potential fundraising, with Blue Nurses showbags on offer.
Image: Gordon Yarrow Collection, Picture Ipswich (ID: qips-2013-12-03-0041p.jpg)
In 1991, the first BlueCare Thrift Shop opened, going on to raise $200,000 over the next decade or so. Established by local fundraising committees in regional and rural communities, thrift shops popped up across Queensland, including Lowood, Rosewood, Laidley, Allora, Murgon, Goondiwindi and Malanda. They raised funds through the sale of donated clothes, books, crockery, glassware, toys and the like, to help fund cars, equipment and refurbishments for their local BlueCare services. The Rosewood shop (pictured above) sat beside Key Hardware in John St for many years. We are very grateful to the many people who have volunteered and shopped at our thrift shops.
As 2020 commenced, we could not have imagined the important new role that technology was about to play in supporting our BlueCare residents. COVID-19 meant lockdowns – and anxiety about how our wonderful residents could stay in touch with their families. This is where the support of charitable foundations such as the Dorothy Levien Foundation come in. Thanks to the foundation’s generous gift, BlueCare was able to ensure that precious connections continued to happen during the pandemic.
CareApp, a communication and engagement platform, was rolled out across our residential sites. It easily and quickly ensured BlueCare could provide updates to friends and family, who can also post their own comments. The Dorothy Levien Foundation’s generosity allowed us to purchase even more devices and data, to extend the CareApp program. Thank you to all the foundations who support BlueCare services. They are helping ensure that older, vulnerable Queenslanders can stay connected to the people they love.
Gifts in Wills
We are honoured when people make the generous decision to remember BlueCare in their Will. This extraordinary act of kindness and compassion has immeasurable and positive outcomes for BlueCare and the people we care for, and we appreciate every gift. Gifts in Wills allow BlueCare to make the long-term commitment necessary to fund ongoing support services for the elderly, vulnerable, and people living with dementia, to ensure that this will continue well into the future.
Gwen, a former BlueCare nurse and volunteer who now lives in a BlueCare retirement village with husband Ron, has been helping people through BlueCare for almost 50 years. Now, through a Gift in her Will to BlueCare, her beautiful support for the elderly will live on for many more years to come.
“I forget how old I am at times,” Gwen says. “Many of the people here are much younger than me. But they need help, so I’m very happy to help them. I’ve left a gift to BlueCare because they remember and care for elderly Queenslanders.”
After you have taken care of your loved ones, please consider leaving a portion of what is left of your estate to BlueCare to support our mission to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals, families and communities. Learn more here
To all of our supporters over the years and for the supporters to come, thank you for being so inspiring and for making all this happen.
In 1952, when Rev Arthur Preston appointed Olive as the first Blue Nurse, they “had only 30 pounds to finance the project”. But the community’s generosity allowed the “ministry of love and healing which the Sisters in Blue bring to home after home” to thrive.
Today, your gift allows us to continue to care for older Australians.
BlueCare. At the heart of Queensland for 70 years.