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Docklander - February 2012

31 Jan 2012

Docklander - February 2012 Image

Maria is doing her bit

Palladio resident Maria Norris is one of those people that you meet every now and again who does everything in the community.  

You know the type ­– ­they put their hand up for committee roles when everyone else is looking at their shoes or at the ceiling.

Maria (who most people know as Maree) is highly energetic and committed and continues to work tirelessly for the community.  The NewQuay resident’s latest charity is the Lady Mayoress’ Committee.

Maria explained that she was currently a member of two Probus Groups, but was rationalising back to just one.  She attends the University of the Third Age (UA3) and is taking botanical art classes at the Docklands Hub.

Her community work started almost from the moment she started her family as an 18-year-old mum.  She said the local maternal and child health nurse convinced her to become secretary of a fundraising group and she hasn’t stopped since.

In 2003 she was awarded a Centenary Medal for services to law.  Far from being a lawyer, Maria was recognised for her service to northern suburban legal services.

She was the inaugural chair of the Broadmeadows Community Legal Service and went on to hold all the executive positions within this organisation over the years.  She was also active with the Broadmeadows Community Resource Centre and Housing for the Aged Action Group (HAAG).

Maria grew up in North Fitzroy.  She was living in a ladies hostel in Albert Park when she started her working life in the Department of Supply and Defence.

In 1953 she married Trevor Norris as a 16-year-old and proceeded to produce and raise three daughters and two sons.  The family lived briefly in West Footscray before moving to Dallas.  Before establishing a post office, Maria worked in a TAB, was a consultant for Gloria Marshall and spent two years managing a hotel.

It was during her time in the post office that she suffered a fall and broke both an arm and a leg.  Recuperation was difficult and it was not until she discovered the benefits of swimming that she made any progress.

“I thought I was going to have the live the rest of my life with my leg in a brace,” she recalled.

In 2005 her husband Trevor died suddenly, and the following year she moved to Docklands.

“I enjoy my lifestyle here,” she said.  “I have lots of friends here and I am certainly not going to sit at the window and watch the world go by.”

Another of Maria’s interests is doing her bit for her big brother’s regimental association, having been treasurer for the past two years.

Maria says that, as the old soldiers slowly fade away, it’s been up to friends and family to pitch in to the keep the various regimental associations alive.

Her brother Norm Parfitt, 94, served as a gunner in the 2nd/4th AIF Field Regiment in the Middle East, in New Guinea and in Borneo during World War II.

“I went away from Australia three times and was lucky enough to come back each time,” the sprightly Norm said at a bi-monthly function at Middle Park Bowling Club.

Despite his age, Norm drove to the function and has no plans of slowing down.  He’s looking forward to both a new hip and to many more association functions.

Maria said she’d always been community minded and put her hand up to help in the light of a diminishing membership base.

Association secretary Pat Cahir said only 54 veterans remained Australia-wide.

“What we say is that when the last man goes, we turn out the lights,” he said.

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