Vale Norma Danks, longtime supporter of The Royal Melbourne Hospital
2 March 2012
The management and staff of The Royal Melbourne Hospital are greatly saddened by the passing of longtime supporter Mrs Norma Danks OAM on 27 February 2012, aged 84.
Norma was Vice-President of the RMH Board of Management, President of the Central Council of Auxiliaries and stalwart of the Hazeldene Auxiliary, RMH Community Council and the Friends of RMH, in an association going back more than five decades. Norma received an Order of Australia for her outstanding work for the hospital and the community.
The Danks family has a very long association with The Royal Melbourne Hospital, going back almost 140 years and five generations to John Danks, founder of John Danks & Son Pty Ltd. Both he and son (Sir) Aaron Danks were philanthropic supporters, and Aaron became President of the Board of Management.
Norma Danks (nee Butt) was born on 31 August 1928, and married to John Danks AO (grandson of the original John Danks), Norma first became with the Hospital in 1956, joining the Hazeldene Auxiliary established by two Danks women in the 1920s.
Norma joined the Executive of the Central Council of Auxiliaries in 1964 and was President from 1972 to 1979.
She became a member of the Hospital Board in 1976 and was appointed Junior Vice-President in 1982 and Senior Vice-President in 1985. She was involved on several committees, including chair of Hospital Inspection and Patient Welfare, Medical Research Funds, Nursing, and Public Relations advisory committees, as well as the Medical Appointments Advisory Board.
On her retirement in 1990 after 34 years on the Central Council of Auxiliaries' Executive and 14 years' service to the Board, the Board recorded: "Mrs Danks had been tireless in her work for the hospital and will be greatly missed by all... On behalf of the Board, the President expressed great thanks and appreciation of Mrs Danks of the tremendous contribution to the Hospital and the Board."
Norma and fellow Auxiliaries' stalwart Mrs Frances Rigby OAM featured in a special report in the Melbourne Health Annual Report in 2006-07. The two women reminisced about the sewing bees, where hospital sheets would be hemmed, ties sewn on to masks or gowns made for patients at the behest of the Matron; the Egg Appeals; the fairs and fetes held on the grounds;vdanced help on board ships in dock; and the jumble sales where police were needed to control the crowds. The also remember the commitment of som many of their colleagues to patients.
"In those days you were expected to give something back to the community," Norma said. "There is a message I hope today's young women can take away from their work: If the women of the auxiliaries could do it with those busy lifestyles, today's young people can do it too... "It is such a worthwhile place to work for - it is a feeling that you will never be able to take away."
RMH Heritage Advisory Committee Chair Susan Sherson said Norma was "a wonderful and very unassuming asset to RMH over many, many years. We were on many committees together and her compassion, warmth, breadth of vision and common sense were always to the fore."
Media Enquiries: Petrina Dakin, Melbourne Health Public Affairs 0433 691 190