There is a twinkle in Julie Ferguson’s eye that radiates her deep gratitude and vigour for life.
And she wears her determined heart on her sleeve with the words ‘Kokoda. I can, I will, I did’ permanently etched on the skin of her forearm.
Julie, 66, lives to show kindness to the people around her and has embraced plenty of opportunities to do that in Beaudesert.
For 12 years, Julie has been driving patients to their medical appointments on the RSL Sub-Branch bus.
She is their longest-running current volunteer driver and she’s on track to break the record of a previous driver, Sam, who did it for 14 years.
She started as she was winding down to retire from her career with Australia Post, and embraced the opportunity to be there for people.
“When someone goes for cancer treatment it’s day after day and you become so entrenched in it – you become part of people’s lives.”
When Julie’s husband, the late Frank ‘Fergie’ Ferguson, was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, she started volunteering with the local Cancer Council branch.
Julie had volunteered with the RSL Sub-Branch Women’s Auxiliary for 17 years and decided to switch focus when Fergie became ill.
She and Frank – a Vietnam Veteran – moved to Beaudesert together 20 years ago after living everywhere except South Australia through his work with the Royal Australian Air Force.
They were married in 1973 after meeting at a house party in the old Tasmanian mining town of Savage River in 1970 and had two kids – Adrian and Susan – who are 48 and 46 this year.
Beaudesert has become like extended family to Julie through her many hours volunteering, from her Cancer Council and RSL Sub- Branch commitments to her role on Beaudesert’s Christmas Spirit Committee.
Julie’s long marriage to Fergie was one of the most defining times in her life.
“My husband always said, ‘Julie saved me’, and I always say he loved me as much as a selfish man can,” she said.
“Vietnam Veterans can be volatile and hard to get along with, but the fact I stayed married to Fergie for 45 years and was the best wife I could be to him defines me and makes me think I can do all sorts of things.”
Julie is passionate about the power of a good long walk.
Whether it’s the Cancer Council Relay for Life, the Kokoda Track she did in Papua New Guinea eight years ago, The Great Glen Way in Scotland or walks closer to home, she just loves to get out and move.
“They tell you the challenge of Kokoda teaches you something about yourself. I learned I’m a very determined person and that I’m no quitter,” she said.
“Staying healthy and being kind are the most important things in life. Get out there and move while you can – inactivity is the worst thing for you.”