The Old Paradians’ Association’s 2019 Woman of Distinction Award, of which the late Val Flynn was declared the recent recipient, has been presented to her husband Michael at the Association’s Ladies Day Luncheon at Melbourne’s RACV City Club.

Michael accepted the award from Val’s great friend Diane Vear, who paid tribute in the presence of more than 85 Luncheon guests, including each of the surviving Award winners Barbara Bibby, Patricia Joss, Shirley O’Rourke and Betty Stella.

A mother to five sons also schooled at Parade, Val was universally respected as a wonderful contributor to the College community. As President of the Mothers’ Auxiliary through the 1980s, she was much admired by her loyal group of dedicated women who continue to gather on a regular basis in a spirit of friendship.

In her presentation address, Diane commended the Association for the “huge honour given me in passing on this well-deserved award to the Flynn family”.

She then delivered the following address;

Val was my lifetime friend. Best friend. Our journey together started over 50 years ago. We were very close neighbours, just outside the gates of Edmund Rice College before it became Parade.

As we (the Flynns and the Vears) were families with children of similar ages, school pick-ups from St Damian’s used to get picked up in station wagons with no seatbelts required at that stage.

When our children moved on to secondary school, our boys were able to walk to school through the new gates . . . and our long-time involvement with parade commenced – wives to support the communities, Dads to commit to the legendary working bees.

Val and I joined the Parade Ladies’ Auxiliary. Val had the bright, bubbly personality, and the energy and enthusiasm- and very quickly became the President of our Committee. Val’s cheerful, relaxed leadership endured her to the ladies, the Brothers and the school staff. Close friendships were established, fundraising was part of our deal, as was catering, staff support and social events . . .

Nothing was too much for Val and her team.

In addition, Val and I and our team worked with the Christian Brothers’ op shop, Mackillop Family Services in Brunswick Street and we also organised events to raise money for the Christian Brothers’ Women in Africa program and the annual Art Show for many years.

This wonderful team of ladies still regularly meets several times a year at the Lower Plenty Hotel to share laughs, friendships and memories of our past 30 years.

In Val’s final years she never gave up trying to beat cancers. She was still the beautiful, smiling personality and she still gave her all. How lucky was I to be given this beautiful friend and workmate, and how lucky Parade College was to have her.

Michael, you know how much I loved Val. It is my honour to present this well-deserved plaque to your family so that you know that all her work was appreciated, and is today acknowledged.

In accepting the award on behalf of Val and their five sons, two of whom (Tim and Stephen) were present in the room, Michael responded as follows;

Thankyou very much Di and thankyou to the Old Paradians’ Association for selecting Val for this award. First and foremost she would have considered herself unworthy of it, but deep down she would have been very impressed.

Val had a long association with the College. We built our house right beside the side gate of Parade way back in ’68 and Val spent a lot of time at the College, and also hosted the Brothers quite a few times with meals at our house. She loved working with the Brothers, the teachers and particularly the girls from the Auxiliary. They did a great job for the College and they had a great time doing it.

Val was always a happy person and a engaging personality. We were all totally upset when she was diagnosed with cancer in 2013. It all started with a pain in her back and she wasn’t worried about it . . . but the pain persisted. She went to the local physiotherapist who couldn’t help her, then the local doctor who referred her to a haemotologist, who then diagnosed two separate cancers- myeloma and lymphoma – totally unrelated.

For four years Val subjected herself to all forms of treatment including a stem call transplant at the Olivia Newton-John Centre . . . all to no avail. Unfortunately she died on the 28th of April, 2017, two years and ten days ago.

We were married 50 years that March and decided to have a big gathering at a winery in the Yarra Valley on the 29th April. Unfortunately she died the day before.

We had a fantastic marriage, Val was a terrific girl and as Di said she spent her whole life smiling. I miss her a lot and I think about her every day, but that’s the way it goes.

Once again I wish to thank all the people involved with the Old Paradians’ Association for this award. It’s very much appreciated and it will take pride of place in our home.”