Updated: Feb 22
So often when we think of great female role models, we think of well-known personalities like JK Rowling, Oprah, Greta Thunberg, and Michelle Obama. While it is wonderful to have these women doing amazing things in the world, for most of us mere-mortals, getting to personally connect with them is probably unlikely (and by probably unlikely… you know what I really mean). All around us in our very own communities, are women who are also doing incredible work. They might be our next-door neighbour, or a teacher at our school. If we just look, I’m sure we’ll find many local heroes within reach. After all, it is well known that the people we spend our time with, shape the person that we are. How great would it be if we could connect with people who inspire us, and foster more of the community we all want to live in.
One local hero, from the Sunshine Coast, is Miss Trelyse Allan. At only 14 years old, Trelyse is one of the youngest artists featured in Remember. She entered the illustration competition because she believes that ‘Anzac Day is a special day…’ This is her first published work, and she hopes it will be the start of something special. Her dream is to one day illustrate and write books of her own. Drawing since she could hold a pencil, her favourite things to paint and draw are dragons, birds and animals.
She lives with her family and pet dog Banjo, and enjoys studying Visual Arts and Digital Photography in Year 8 at High School, as well as attending art school. If she’s not drawing and painting you will find her reading, playing Trumpet and Guitar, creating ideas for stories, camping, or riding her bike.
Trelyse is very proud to be part of such a wonderful book, and I’m very proud to have her be part of it. It can take a lot of courage to step up and do something that not everyone has the capacity for. It is extremely heartening to know that the future of our beautiful country is in such good hands, and that my own daughter has someone brave, talented, compassionate, and importantly accessible, to look up to.
Someone else who our young people can look up to, is Mrs Emma Ingram. Talk about one of Australia’s fantastic female role models. She entered her artwork in ‘Remember’ not only because of the strong personal connection she has to the story, with her Grandfather being an RAF veteran who served in both Malaya and Cyprus, but because she wanted to ‘… show students that anyone can be an author or an illustrator: if I can do it, why not them?’
Emma has been teaching at St Mary’s Primary School in Grafton NSW since 2013 and lives on a rural property west of Graton with her husband, adorable six-month-old daughter, and their two Shetland sheepdogs. Donating her work to support veterans, lovingly raising her family, and teaching our young people with such passion and commitment, make Emma another local hero.
Often inspired by the art styles of different artists, Emma enjoys experimenting with various styles and mediums. Her artwork submission for Remember was inspired by Quentin Blake, the illustrator behind many of the Roald Dahl books, who uses black ink and watercolour sketches. Her commitment to not only her community, her students, and her beautiful family, but also to our precious veterans and service members, make her an inspiration.
And unlike Oprah, you may actually be able to grab a coffee with her, or at least get to chat with her at an upcoming book launch.
The last local hero who deserves talking about today, is Ms Catherine Macmillan. A huge hero in my eyes, she was the driving force behind securing the funding that was required for getting Remember to print, in a way that would enable a significant contribution to be made to the defence community from book sales. The Secretary for Moreton District, Cathie epitomises the purpose of RSL Queensland; to provide real and practical support to Queensland’s Defence family, under an ethos of compassion and service. She is working on two important projects right now, helping veterans through LiveLife Personal Alarms and the Dental Subsidy welfare project. As well as alerting for help after a fall, in the event that a person wearing the alarm goes missing, a LiveLife Personal Alarm can enable them to be located within two meters. The Dental Subsidy program can provide significant funding for eligible members of the defence community each year. More information on these, and many other wonderful programs, are available on the RSL website, or by contacting local sub branches or district offices.
In her executive role at Moreton District RSL, Cathie fosters connections between current and ex-serving personnel and their community, to provide the camaraderie, concern and mateship shown among diggers during WWI, when the RSL first began.
I’m incredibly proud and honoured to be partnered with the RSL for Remember. If you have a story about a fantastic woman, inspiring others by doing wonderful things in your community, especially for veterans, I’d love to hear about it. Tag me @JEMillerAuthor with the hashtag #femalerolemodels
Writing this, I am reminded of one of my favourite sayings. On our own, we might never have the power to change the whole world… I can’t actually think of anyone who does… but we can all change our own little bit of it. By doing that, collectively, we do have the power to make the world a better place. At the very least, in the words of Lieutenant General Robert Baden-Powell, we all have the power to ‘leave this world a little better than [we] found it.’ To all the people striving out there to that end, and to all the wonderful female role models out there… Oprah, Greta, Trelyse, Emma, and Cathie… I salute you.