ebruary 16 - 22, 2020: Issue 438


Doreen Cherry OAM: A Tribute

1927 - 2020

VALE: Doreen Gladys CHERRY OAM 

(nee Boyle)
20/01/1927 – 05/02/2020, surrounded by loving family.

Devoted wife of the late John William Cherry.
Loving mother of Wendy and Rosemary, adored Grandmother to Elissa, Heath, Amelia, Imogen, Luke and Sarah, “GG” to Lillian, Felix, Reuben, Finn, Lyla, Emily and Hudson.
Sister to Roy, mother in law to John, grandmother in law to Ben, Elliott, Amanda, aunt to Peter.
An inspiration to all.

Family and friends are warmly invited to attend a celebration of Doreen’s life, 11 am, 17th February St Mark’s Anglican Church, Avalon Beach and the Stella Room, Avalon RSL.

It is with great sadness that we bring news of the passing of Doreen Cheery OAM, beloved by her family and many in our community.

Our sincere condolences to her loved ones - Doreen will be much missed by all here who had the privilege to know her and share some of her ongoing zest for life and works during the past years.

In the 2014 Australia Day Honours Doreen was awarded an OAM - the citation read:

Mrs Doreen Gladys CHERRY, Avalon Beach NSW 

For service to the community of the North Shore. 

Member, Australian Women of the Year Association, since 1976.  Committee Member, Australian Women's Land Army Association; Member, Land Army, 1945. Supporter, Look Good Feel Better; Mrs Cherry organises the collection of scarves from Women of the Year members, community groups and individuals to donate to Look Good Feel Better (Cancer Patients Association). Supporter, Kaddy Transport, Uniting Care, Uniting Church, Dee Why, from 1982. Supporter, Cerebral Palsy and the Special Centre ‘Miss Australia’ Quest, 1973. Community representative, friendship group exchange tour to Carmel, California USA, 1973. Established, Avalon Beach A1 Company, Girl Guides; assisted in the building of the Guide Hall opened in 1967. Retired Justice of the Peace. Branch Delegate, New South Wales Nurses and Midwives' Association, 1990-1992; Registered Nurse, 1945-1994. Former President, Royal North Shore Hospital Post-Graduate Nurses Association; Foundation Member; Life Member. Early Childhood Specialist.  

Above: Doreen (3rd from right) raised $4000.00 of this total, beside her is the lady who helped her, Mrs Veda Deaton (2nd from right), formerly of Palm Beach.

Above: Doreen with Her Excellency (then) Governor of New South Wales Marie Bashir at Avalon Tattoo reception, 16th of June, 2012. Doreen was a Member of the Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch and also organised and attended Legacy Widows Luncheons there on occasion. A J Guesdon photo

This only skims the surface though really. Since Pittwater Online ran a Profile with a small insight into this generous lady in 2012 her work, in everything from collecting plastic bottle-caps to give to local people for humanitarian projects, to attending the Commemoration Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans as a Land Army Representative, or organising annual luncheons for the Land Army girls in town, or sending cards and chocolates to cheer people up whose illness she had heard of, Doreen was For and About community.

At the Commemoration Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans in May 2013 with Oliver Wyatt and Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO - photo by Michael Mannington OAM, Community Photography photo

Barrenjoey High School's Oliver Wyatt with Doreen Cherry OAM, Womens Land Army Service WWII on Friday May 27th, 2016 who laid a wreath on behalf of the Women's Land Army at the Commemoration Service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Veterans At the YININMADYEMI: THOU DIST LET FALL Indigenous Artwork adjacent to Hyde Park ANZAC Memorial - this is after the Service. A J Guesdon photo

Left to right: Rose Petersen (author of The Diamond Jubilee State Coach), Doreen Cherry OAM, Professor The Honourable Dame Marie Bashir AD CVO and Gladys Alder, Narrabeen lady - at Land Army Spring Luncheon in 2016

The essence of Doreen Cherry, Avalon Beach resident for over seventy years, is one of generous giving of self from an early age and sharing her time and energy to make the lives of those around her better.  A Career as a nurse, contributing to community by helping raise funds for, as an example, the Burns Unit at Hornsby Hospital in 1978, this lady filled each day with doing for others. Her passing, at 93 years of age, means the loss of one face that would greet you with a lovely smile, no matter what she herself was going through.

A Tribute that includes some of all seen and done by Doreen since that 2012 interview runs this week.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was delivered by a midwife in a cottage hospital in Hornsby on the 20th of January 1927. I grew up with my older brother who was three years old when I was born. Our father built our house in Waitara, not that populated then and amongst the bush. We were considered ‘hicks’ as it was over an hour by train from the city. It was a great place to grow up and my parents were very involved in the community and became Life Members of Hornsby Hospital.

When I was 8 years old I joined the Junior Red Cross and the Bird League. Hornsby Hospital Cottage caught fire and my mother made sandwiches for the firemen and I ran through the bush with the sandwiches in an Arnott’s biscuit tin to the hospital.

My father was often in hospital for a year at a time from war injuries; he was injured twice in the First World War; I got to know a lot about hospitals and long term illnesses and people on crutches. My father used to do the Anzac Day March often on crutches and join in halfway; so I was proud to carry the Australian Flag leading the Land Army for the last time at the Sydney Anzac Day March this year (2012).

I went to the Waitara Infants School, Hornsby Public School and Hornsby Home Science School and as a boarder Stratford Church of England Girls School at Lawson in the Blue Mountains, Barker College and Oxford College in Sydney. I still have friends from that era, one a neighbour in Avalon. 

Above: Doreen, September 1945, when 18 - and Right: In Land Army Uniform in 1945

I joined the Australian Women’s Land Army early in 1945 prior to commencing my General Nursing training. I trained to be a nurse at Royal North Shore Hospital of Sydney from 1945 to 1949, after graduating I travelled to England originally to skate in an Ice Show and then decided to work in Blood Bank Unit in Liverpool and then travelled throughout England, Scotland and Wales with the blood bank.  


Attractive trained nurses, Mrs. . B. Walker, of Pymble (left), and Miss Doreen Boyle, of Hornsby, who left in the Moreton Bay today for 18 months' stay in England. Miss Boyle, an accomplished skater, hopes to enter the ice ballet in London. No title (1949, October 29). The Sun (Sydney, NSW : 1910 - 1954), p. 3 (FINAL SPORT LAST RACE). Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article229228394 


SKATER DOREEN BOYLE demonstrates her skill at the Sydney Glaciarium. She Is going to London where she hopes to join the ice ballet.  Graceful (1949, November 1). The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954), p. 8. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article244143410

The second Nursing qualification I completed was the Tresillian Mothercraft Certificate in 1960.You had to ‘live-in’ at Tresillian Willoughby, which was a challenge with two young children but made possible with a very supportive husband. I always wanted to be a Baby Health Centre Sister so I studied midwifery at North Shore Hospital of Sydney as a mature aged student from 1981-1982. 

I offered to work in the country after my husband John died and spent 10 years in Goulburn and Bowral Districts in a career as Baby Health Centre Sister which I absolutely loved. I completed my forth certificate in 1984 became an Early Childhood Nurse Specialist.

Could you share some insights about your time in the Australian Women’s Land Army and your early nursing career?

I was sent to Griffith and then Black Mountain near Guyra, the coldest place in Australia! Even in summer it was like going into a refrigerator. I picked peas and dug and graded potatoes with frozen fingers! Living in huts was a harsh experience. One of the girls became a nanny and lived in the farm house.

One of the girls decided we had to catch ferrets.  I didn’t know ferrets were not very nice creatures and she got a little out of hand actually; one of the land girls became a nanny and lived in a house and the rest of us seemed to be chasing ferrets to catch rabbits. I had that experience of being in Singleton at House Valley and Bulga where a cousin kindly taught me how to trap rabbits. I tell you, you only ever caught your thumb once in these rabbit traps !

You learnt the hard way!

The skins were valuable then; they were used a lot for felt hats and various things and you’d see lots of rabbit and fox skins. My first fur cape and my mother’s and my sister in law; we all had the same golden fox capes, and they were very trendy and popular in those days. By the time you were 21 you were very unlucky of you didn’t have a cape.

There was not a lot of money when you were nursing, the salary was quite small then. You had to buy your stockings, your aprons, pay board and  your parents helped you out with pocket money the camaraderie’s was the same as was in the Land Army is really what kept you going in those times. All the girls that I started and many that I met by going back and doing other things (courses) were all dedicated.  It was a calling I feel in those days and you did put up with a lot of hardship.

I was fortunate to train in a wonderful hospital with dedicated staff. One of my greatest achievements was establishing the Graduate Nurses Association at Royal North Shore. When the Maternity Block was officially opened it was discovered there were no nurseries so and Mrs Edmond Collins asked if the graduates would help raise money for air conditioning to be installed in the solariums. I I am a past president and remain a staunch supporter and I often attend meetings at Royal North Shore.

The Graduate Nurses Association is still in operation and one of our biggest achievements was when a very dedicated Graduate Nurse Una Sullivan ensured that we raised money for a magnificent stained glass window for the hospital chapel designed by Philip Handel.

How did John come into your life? I know you were a pen-pal with his sister…

That is true. A relative returned to England and a girl in her family my age called Mary asked to write to me as a pen friend. Pen friends were very popular in the 1940’s. When Mary married I received a letter from Audrey Cherry a friend of Mary’s asking me to be her pen friend, she also asked me to write to her cousin Robert in the Army in India and her brother John who was in the RAF in the Middle East. John wrote to me regularly whilst I was living in the Nurses Home and when I finally went to England to work, he arranged to meet me under the clock at Liverpool station it was a wonderful meeting. 

Above: John with white stripe on cap that indicates an Airman Trainee.

Doreen recalls: 

"I thought I’d have a peek and if I didn’t like the look of him I’d run away. I was there 10 days and we got engaged! 

CHERRY—BOYLE.—The Engagement is announced of Doreen Gladys, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Boyle,  Hornsby, to John William, only son of the late Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Cherry, of Hull, England. Family Notices (1950, March 10). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 18. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18151554

It worked well; we could follow each other on the circuits our work entailed. He’d always wanted to come to Australia. We arrived on the 1/1/1951 and in March 1951 we were married at St Peter’s, Hornsby (where Doreen was born). 

By December 1951 we had moved to North Avalon to a block of land we’d bought with a small converted garage on it; everyone had converted garages, log cabins here then; it was all very simple, basic places. Tasman road had only five houses. There were so many koalas; he learned to eat oysters; loved them; the English were amazing. David Goddard (the English producer who started Bellbird the popular television series) had been brought out here to do the show, and no one met his boat, no one there to welcome them, so he and his wife took a taxi and drove out here. They loved it too and took a place at Nth Avalon, up on the cliff there. 

Avalon was a true village then; its whole history owes a lot to these people who came out from England after the war; they ran the P&C, ran Girl Guides, helped build a new school; they said the hills reminded them of Cornwall. John started building the Guide Hall as he had two daughters and  they didn’t have anywhere to meet; it was used for everything, a community hall. We had meetings and Councillor Adcock offered a block of land where it was.

With her daughters and friend, Avalon Beach home (NB: Avalon Beach sandhills in background) 

The Avalon Girl Guides hall can be seen in the Background - John Stone photo

Brown Owl, Miss Miles(she was educated at a Ladies college; taught the Brownies good manners; we had a background of ethics and standards then), lived up Bellevue Avenue, and she was great, we had the Lions Club behind us too. It was to be a community hall, not just Guides. 

John became Clerk of Works because of his experience with figures and business management. Stan Barry was a very reliable and well known builder (he was living in Central Road then); all the rest was voluntarily. Father Boland of the Catholic church helped and supported us; They got working bees going, then these fell off a bit, so they made a roster; and everyone had their day and shift. John would call them, let them know. A cousin of ours came and did the brickwork for the chimney; we designed an outside veranda; we had to make people think to of the future, of future uses. Mrs Wentworth was the District Guider at this stage; she opened her house, we had morning teas and suppers to raise money.

Inside the Avalon Girl Guides hall - Doreen is the lady in the red blouse - image from a Cherry family slide.

The people that helped a lot were the family of Alice Robertson, a fishermen family with seven children at Careel Bay, great folk, they were very helpful; so we had wonderful families like those; you could always rely on Alice to do things, even with all those children. We ended up having two companies that I (Doreen) put together, instead of one. The hall was officially opened on the 21st of October, 1967 and had paid for itself within two years, solely through community use.

The John Cherry Memorial Shield Annual Citizenship Award named to honour John's work, and presented annually to a worthy Guide or Brownie ended in 1999.

John's fund raising and community building didn’t end in Avalon; he also helped raise all needed for Philip Handel's magnificent stained glass window in the Chapel of the Royal North Shore Hospital, a new one has been donated by the Graduate Nurses Association.

John William Cherry was also an early Sub-Branch member of Avalon Beach RSL Club.  He became an Australian citizen and had a lifelong love of Photography, recording most of the dances and events in the area with good friend Ron Searl, father of respected local historian, and also a great contributor for decades to community, Geoff Searl. 

Audrey and I also became very close. John and I returned to Australia to be married, Audrey followed and remained in Australia to work for a few years. My parents were very close to John. He was popular wherever he went. One of his great achievements was Voluntary Clerk of Works on the Avalon Beach Girl Guide Hall. He died at only 45 in 1971. He was a wonderful family man and devoted to his two daughters. 

Visit: John William Cherry

He established a retail business “Avalon Fashions For Me” with Stephanie McDonald on the corner of Old Barrenjoey road and Avalon Parade in a cottage belonging to a Mrs Wickham, a very well known Avalon identity. She lived in the cottage part, which became the Post Office and General Store and Avalon Fashions. The cottage is currently the Ibizia café.

Above: Stephanie and Doreen in Avalon Fashions for Me window, April 1967

The shop used to flood up to the steps. The floods in Avalon were caused by inadequate behind the sand-hills and there used to be a lot of tents and camping there. I can recall people camping began to float and their things began to float to Careel Bay; the kids got on those blow up mattresses and took the exciting trip!

So that was finally done properly, and other drainage works installed; and then there was no more camping; but the tide can still come up and flood that corner. I did some training at the shop called ‘Tradewinds’ in Avalon Beach and one day I came home for lunch one day in the early 1960's  and I had to go back with my skirt rolled up to my hips because the water on the other side was always much deeper.

One latter instance was when all the cars were floating which will tell you how deep it was; this was in the car park is now near Woolworths. I also remember another phenomenon we had was the freak snow storm, call it what you like…in 1956. 

You have also been an ardent supporter of the Australian Women of the Year organisation?

Yes. Apart from my own family an important influence in my life since my husband died has been the Australian Women of the Year organisation which acknowledges achievement and contributions to the community. I was introduced to the organisation by Elizabeth Elscome-Schmidt a BOAC flight attendant in 1975 in Canberra and I have been attending functions for 35 years. Many of the women are some of my closest and dearest friends. It’s very humbling in lots of ways when you know what some people achieve and what sacrifices they make. The wonderful guest speakers have widened my horizons tremendously with luncheons in a different state each year. 

What is Look Good Feel Better about?

I have been involved in Look Good Feel Better at Royal North Shore Hospital since I had breast cancer. I was asked to attend a gathering to give me moral support and tell me how to cope with feeling better. Look Good Feel Better is dedicated to helping women who are undergoing cancer treatment to manage how they look. I didn’t have chemotherapy, I had radiotherapy; I could stand back a little from losing my hair but I was absolutely dedicated then to getting the Women of the Year to collect scarves for Look Good Feel Better. Look Good Feel Better has helped more than 50,000 women since its inception in 1990.Teaching women to cope with the side effects of cancer therapy using wigs, makeup and scarves. My groups have sent more than a 1000 new and unwanted scarves to L.G.F.B 

Doreen was also a regular contributor to the Warringah-Pittwater News, a local newspaper that ran for years, as well as other publications, especially sharing great insights on current fashion when husband John was running “Avalon Fashions For Me”. Her prowess with the pen showed up in numerous instances when she wrote many of the Articles shared in Pittwater Online News about the Womens' Land Army Luncheons - these were also published in the Land Army Newsletters. One of her daughters has inherited this gene and is a renowned Editor.

An example shares some insights into local support for Look Good Feel Better in 2013 - :

Like some good news?

February 25th, 2013

Well, I have found a drop off spot for the many people who have asked where they may leave scarves for “Look Good, Feel Better” for cancer (Particularly for people who are having chemotherapy treatment, with hair loss).

The support comes from Di and Jim Langford of OneAgency Langford Property, Real Estate. The Address:  4/55 old Barrenjoey Road , Avalon Beach (The office is located in the Angophora Arcade, next to the Avalon Recreation Centre). Phone: 9918 7888

Long time supporters for many years of our local community organisations. “Once a boy scout, always a scout.” - Thank you Jim, Di, and Family.

Scarves may be pre-loved or new, bandanna, square or rectangle. Ask friends and neighbours that are moving or downsizing also. The scarves can be delivered to Jim and Di’s office at the above address.

Some donations of scarves have come from RSL Clubs, girl guides, Women of the Year, Zonta, Schools, Students, Strangers and Children. Making in total, from this area, more than 1200 scarves for about 150 centres that help people to ‘look good and feel better’ and have a change of headwear.

Watch this space for more details of this mainly voluntary organisation, that have lifted the spirits of thousands of women (mainly). 

Thank you, 

Doreen Cherry 

A letter from Joanne Meehan, State Program Manager of ‘Look Good…Feel Better’ says it all;

“On behalf of the ‘Look good… Feel Better’ program and the many women cancer patients we help. I wish to extend this huge thank you to you and your members for the scarves you sent.  I will distribute them to the NSW workshops; I know the feedback will be one of appreciation and gratitude. 

I’m sure you would understand the monotony of wearing the same head dress day in and day out, receiving  the scarves from your ladies will be a very welcome change for the patients.

Thank you so much for your generosity of spirit and time, it is much appreciated.”

Doreen with Stephanie and Lola - Langford supporters in 2013

What is your favourite place in Pittwater and why?

The Basin of course because with the children growing up it was a place we didn’t have to worry about safety because you see them and you could sit with your back to a tree. They had boiling water, we could have a picnic. In the Winter we’d take them too, groups of us would go to the Basin because it was really trouble free and we could talk to each other and the children played with each other in a very safe environment. I haven’t stayed on Currawong, but my family have; they’ve also tented off at the Basin.

And Avalon itself of course. Avalon, I think, is one of the prettiest beaches. I never tire of walking along Avalon Beach and just looking at the view or taking a coffee. We’re still a village. They might call us ‘poor Double Bay’ but things are changing somewhat; they think we’re all rich and I still haven't finished my house yet !! and I’ve been here in Avalon 60 years (laughs). 

Here, among longer term residents at least, it’s not material things that count. The door’s always open and Avalon is a very very unique place to stay.

What is your favourite sport?

My passion in sport would be ice skating, which was an absolute pleasure. I was not allowed to skate when I was training to be a nurse. My father never opposed my skating, he didn’t think people should dictate what I did on my days off. I had to make sure I didn’t have any accidents. There is nothing like dancing on ice with a partner and skating backwards on the ice!

What is your ‘motto for life’ or a phrase you try to live by?

I love the phrase "Take the T out of Can’t and you can!” from The Art of Positive Thinking by Joanne Chase. I've often said to young people, particularly surfers, who, in a competition, get nervous, I say ‘take the T out of Can't and you can’ and they rush back to say to me ‘I did!’

A Wonderful life!

I have amazing two daughters, 4 granddaughters, 2 grandsons, 1 great granddaughter, and 7 great grandchildren.


By Doreen Cherry

Remembrance Day has always been special for me but this year all the more so as it will be the 11th 11th 11 th.

During the post war years after the Second World War whilst I was training to be a Nurse one of our Staff doctors had been killed on active service and his Nursing Sister widow and their teenaged son were attending a hospital Remembrance service. He told his mother  this day was always special  for him as he felt close to his Father and his own loving thoughts came easily and he felt emotional and comforted and this would be his own special day forever.  I have adopted this thought  process for myself ever since, including those killed or who have served in war.

My father joined up from Manly and served in the A.I.F. in the First World War and the Second World War.  In the first War he was wounded in France and sent to a hospital in England for many months then returned to the trenches in France where he was wounded in a hip and later returned by ship to a Military hospital in Sydney where he spent many months of his life at Randwick or Concord, Lady Gowrie or Lady Davidson Hospitals even the Quarantine Station at North Head when he first arrived back in Australia.

Then came Penicillin and a cure for osteomyelitis and my father’s life changed forever.

During the 2nd World War he applied to join the A.I.F. but his time was short lived even though he made it to a military camp in Victoria and Ingleburn near Sydney . All his Military records where found and he didn’t pass a second medical examination to join the A.I.F. for service overseas. So he was given permission to transfer to the Australian Militia as a Warrant officer riding along the Northern Beaches on a motorbike wearing a tin helmet and checking the gun turret on Westhead and overlooking Barrenjoey Headland and the entrance and to the Pacific Ocean with his binoculars.

Who can remember the huge concrete pyramids on Dee Why Beach intended to keep the Japanese enemy from landing? Barbwire and the concrete structures were checked all the time by my wonderful Father a very brave A.N.Z.A.C. My  hero.

As a family we are negotiating for a plaque in the Manly memorial walkway. 

Doreen Cherry, 2011 Remembrance Day writers

WLA at Admiralty House Above (left to right): Doreen Cherry, Althea Hutcheson, Nancy Hammond, Peggy Williams, Judy Finlay and Doris Pitty, 2012

Doreen Cherry OAM at Remembrance Day Service, November 11th, 2019 at Avalon Beach RSL - with her daughter Wendy - Doreen was an Avalon Beach RSL Sub-Branch member. A J Guesdon photo

Top Portrait of Doreen - photo by Michael Mannington OAM, Community Photography