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Award a high note for Heather

Nov. 29, 2019

From sky-diving to singing, Heather Jobling has never been one to stick to the norm when it comes to how she has supported the Parkinson’s community.

And on Monday, her contributions were acknowledged when she was announced recipient of the 2019 Sir Zelman Cowen Award at the Parkinson’s Victoria AGM.

“I feel deeply honoured and accept this award on behalf of all the people who have contributed in so many different ways and shared the journey to make the dream a reality,” Heather said on receiving the award.

The Sir Zelman Cowen Award is Parkinson’s Victoria’s highest honour and was first presented in 2006 to acknowledge an individual for their outstanding service to people living with Parkinson’s.

Heather, who was diagnosed in 2006, has been a long-time supporter of her local Parkinson’s community in Williamstown and was also instrumental in introducing the ParkinSong therapeutic singing program into Victoria.

But her first fundraising and awareness activity was Jump for Parkinson’s in April 2011 to coincide with World Parkinson’s Day and her 70th birthday.

“I decided to take a leap of faith and do a tendem sky dive. My philosophy has always been life is a gift, life is for living and that living should be fun. Was jumping out of a plane fun? It most certainly was. For others it was terrifying,” Heather said.

In 2012, Heather was asked to lead a local support group in Williamstown.

“I initially declined the invitation – I wanted to do something different. After I listened to an address by a speech pathologist, and later talked to her, my idea started to take shape. If people were to exercise their voices through singing, this could perhaps assist with speech and swallowing.”

After discussions with Parkinson’s Victoria staff, a small steering committee was established, and funding from the Hobson’s Bay Council mayoral fund helped get the new singing group off the ground.

“On Thursday 21 March, 2013, my dream was born. We held our first meeting, and 12 people with Parkinson’s and six carers from around Melbourne turned up.

“We had no name and no accompaniment, but what we did have was the irresistible good humour of Doug Heywood OAM, and we did have fun. Everyone present wanted to repeat the experience.”

Doug, who leads the singing program, was joined by his wife, Alex Cameron, who plays the keyboard. As the group had no name, a competition was held to find one. The successful entry – ParkinSong. Heather’s dream had become a reality.

Her next dream came to life last year with the ParkinSong Concert at the Williamstown Town Hall, a celebration of singing, dancing and painting.

“We had hoped for audience of 200 but over 430 turned up to enjoy listening, participating and watching and over 100 ParkinSong singers had fun,” Heather said.

Parkinson’s Victoria CEO Emma Collin thanked Heather and her husband Mike for their tireless support of the Parkinson’s community.

“Heather’s contributions are an inspiration to others and we thank her for making a significant difference by bringing happiness and social connection to so many in the Parkinson’s community,” Emma said.

A number of other awards were presented at the AGM.

Community Recognition Award

Judy Russell: Leader of the Camberwell PSG, Judy enthusiastically and passionately fulfils this role, often beyond the call of duty. 

Richard Grimmett: Community Fundraiser and passionate Parkinson’s advocate.

Mike Atkinson:  Former leader of the Geelong Young Onset PSG, current working group member of Geelong PSG, involved in Surf Coast Painting with Parkinson’s & Torquay Dancing with Parkinson’s, organiser of Community Seminars in the Geelong area and 2019 World Parkinson Congress Ambassador.

Christine Anderson: Facilitator of the Kyabram PSG, passionate fundraiser for A Walk in the Park, and the face of the Parkinson’s Victoria 2019 winter appeal.

Honorary Life Member

Trevor & Pearl White: Foundation members of the South Gippsland Support Group (since 2004) and regular participants in Parkinson’s Victoria events, particularly a number of years attending A Walk in the Park. Have also actively fundraised for Parkinson’s Victoria.

Judy Phelan: A major fundraiser for Parkinson’s Victoria and a passionate participant and regular top fundraiser for A Walk in the Park participant since 2010. Judy has been a Parkinson's Victoria Ambassador and features in this year’s Festive Season.

10 Year Service Award

Louise and Paul Zajac (Geelong Young@Park),

5 year Service Award

Darryl Keeble (Mildura), Cynthia Parker (Mildura), Christine Anderson (Kyabram), Joy Shortis (Kyabram), Kathy Kukuljan (Kyabram)

Certificate of Appreciation

Kirsten George: the Geelong walk was an outstanding event, thanks to her leadership and tireless work supporting this regional community event.

Peter Walsh: Has supported the Warrnambool PSG for over 10 years by providing a venue for the monthly group meetings and catering free of charge.  Peter has regularly sponsored Parkinson’s events in the Warrnambool area.

Dr John Locke: John has served on Parkinson’s Victoria Research Committee since 2016 and retires this year.

Fred Van Ross: former board member and Essendon PSG leader who also served on the Research Committee after retiring as a Director.

Shane Murphy: Retired Parkinson’s Victoria Board Director.

Caption: Heather recieving the Sir Zelman Cowen Award from Parkinson's Victoria Chair Philip Thomas.

Heather and her husband Mike led the Williamstown ParkinSong group for six years, stepping down from the helm at the end of 2018. They were profiled in the May 2018 edition of InMotion magazine. Read the story in the attached PDF, InMotion story: Community spirit keeps Williamstown singing


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