Senior Citizen of the Year: Fay Ison

When Vicki Ison decided to nominate her mother for Senior Citizen of the Year in the Ipswich Australia Day Awards she knew she would have to keep it a secret or the nomination never would have made it to the judging panel.

At 86, her mother Fay Ison has been a dedicated volunteer for more than five decades, but has never sought public recognition. However, her impact is seen clearly in the support her nomination received from people she has met – whether 50 years ago or as recently as two years ago – and their comments paint a similar picture.

“She is a caring, kind and giving individual who helps others regardless of their needs or background…Fay is a wonderful friend with always a kind word and considerate thoughts…It takes a certain kind of someone to want to sacrifice the many days and hours it takes to provide help and support to others and that someone is Fay Ison, an advocate for young men and women of our many cultural and diverse communities and a passionate cheerleader of sport,” are just a few.

Vicki was able to keep her secret and Fay knew nothing of her nomination until she received her letter of confirmation; and she was even more surprised when she was announced the Senior Citizen of the Year at the awards ceremony.

Fay may feel uncomfortable in the limelight but she has never shied away from a challenge or an opportunity to help, especially when it comes to her beloved sports of softball, netball and rugby league.

Fay said her passion for sport came from her dad, a drover and a shearer who was a good swimmer and a fast runner and could keep up with Olympians in his day when they came to a training camp nearby.

When Fay found herself a single mother of seven children she switched gear and studied sports medicine to work in the field she enjoyed so much as a player. She admits it was a challenge and she sometimes worried she couldn’t do more for them, but she took them along to matches with her and they soon adopted a passion for sports themselves.

“I am a volunteering addict,” Fay said, laughing, after her win. Vicki supports that description. “If age were no barrier she would still be in the locker room, she was still strapping for netball and football until two years ago. She can’t help herself, and she can’t say no if someone needs her help. If she sees someone injured on the field she wants to go out to help,” Vicki said.

But more than being a key player behind-the-scenes with teams at Swifts Rugby League, Ipswich Softball, the Jillaroos and more, Fay has been an advocate in the development of sport in which has had a long-lasting impact on the lives of many players who have participated in local, regional, state and national levels in netball, softball and rugby league.

She has successfully raised the profile and participation of women in rugby league, locally and beyond. She became an Honorary Life Member for Ipswich Netball in 2019.

Fay has been a driving force for Woman’s Royal Australian Airforce, school committees, and child safety initiatives, as well as coordinating packages for veterans. Fay continues to volunteer for Meals on Wheels.

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