Helen Dodge

Thanksgiving and Remembrance Service – Geelong Style
Report by Helen Dodge – ex-HLTTV committee member, and ex-Geelong native

Saturday, June 23rd, 2001 was the inaugural Service of Thanksgiving and Remembrance to be held in Geelong, and was performed at Wesley Uniting Church, in central Geelong.

Being an organ recipient, with two brothers also recipients,I felt I wanted to thank all donor families, in order to reinforce my, and our, gratitude for the gift, and for, in fact, a new life.

Having gone to the Melbourne Services yearly, and having felt the effect they had made, and knowing that there were many donor-families and recipients living in the Geelong region, it seemed like a good idea to canvas a locally based Service.

We made a small committee of Myself, my brother Rod Fraser and committee member John McLean, all transplant recipients.

We approached the Minister at the Wesley Uniting Church, Rev.Dr Ian Williams with the idea and, luckily, he was very supportive and readily made available the Church premises. He also offered his personal assistance, so we soon got on the move!

The Geelong Advertiser newspaper was also extremely generous with advertising space and promotion. The same attitude was shown towards the idea by local Radio Stations, who carried out on-air promotions.

Not to be forgotten, although – sadly – the Transplant Promotion Council itself is now defunct, Mr Alan McLean, lately the Exec. Director of that institution, helped me with his particular brand of enthusiasm, knowledge, and invaluable contacts.

June 23rd arrived, and I felt hopeful of a good turnout, and I was not disappointed!! It was a very emotional Service (Melbourne Service attendees will know what Helen means) with talks by donor-family members, and organ-recipients, including two young girls with liver-transplants. Five other young children lit candles, for remembrance, and spoke words of thanks on behalf of all – incredible little girls!!

The children also led the congregation in clapping for all the sung and spoken pieces, setting a very warm and friendly atmosphere.

Since this was an eucumenical Service, assistance was given to Rev.Williams by Monseigneur Murray, and the Rev.Dr Irwin Faris. The Welsh Ladies Choir sang “If I can help somebody with a word or a song”, and “I believe”, then closed the Service with the Sung Blessing – all beautifully rendered.

Afternoon Tea was served by the Ladies Guild, with much talking and questioning, and it was asked whether the Service could be made an annual affair. In fact it will be an annual event, and news of next year’s will be advertised, nearer the time of course.

I give my sincere thanks to Gavin and Carol Blakeney, Thelma Van den Berg, Felicity Nolan, Louise Dodge, Margaret Pratt, and Ken Fulton. A beautiful little letter, from Sharon McCourt, was read in her absence – so thanks to her, and also to Jessica and Bianca Mullen, Jordyn and Taylor Griffin, Alexander Fraser, and, of course, to the Committee.

Helen Dodge (single lung transplant – 1993)