Jean Cheshire OAM

Jean Cheshire's faith taught her the importance of offering love and support to all, and she led by example.

Honour Roll

For over 50 years she taught religious education and for over 45 years was a mainstay at the Hurlingham Aged Care Home. She was a past president and committee member and played the organ at the fortnightly worship service for residents.

But it was her work with prisoners that brought her great rewards. She first became involved through playing the organ at Pentridge Prison for the men's Sunday afternoon service. When the Women's Correctional Centre in Deer Park opened in 1996 Jean started volunteering and continued to visit the women two days a week until 2005. "Everyone knew there that they could get a hug from me, or 'Grandma' as they used to call me," Jean said. "The women confided in me. My work at the prison was often with the families - bringing them together again."

She continued to receive letters from many of the women she supported over the years. It was Jean's love of people and her willingness to help that has led to numerous awards and recognition for her life's work. She was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to women, particularly through the National Council of Women of Victoria. "Everything I have ever done has been done for love, never for payment," Jean said. "I do not feel this is my honour - it is the honour of everyone who contributes to the community and makes a difference in people's lives."

An avid writer she wrote two letters of encouragement a week to people who inspired her but who rarely received recognition. "There are so many wonderful women who do so much for people and make other people's lives possible," Jean said.