The AYO community was saddened to hear of the passing of Maureen White in December 2018.
As many of our alumni will be aware, Maureen was a key person in the running of National Music Camps and AYO seasons during the early decades of their existence. By 1955, when AYO was able to conduct its first independent Music Camp, Maureen was an established and valuable member of the senior administration. She was the right hand for John Bishop and Ruth Alexander at all times, and the AYO of today would not be what it is without Maureen’s dedication and hard work.
Maureen was held in the highest regard and affection by all in the AYO community who came to know her, and we were delighted to be able to recognize her contribution formally through her appointment as a Life Member of AYO in 2009.
Patrick Brislan, AYO alumnus and present Volunteer Development Coordinator, knew Maureen well, and recently shared his thoughts about Maureen’s impact on AYO’s development, which we are delighted to share.
Maureen White, who died in December 2018, will be sadly missed particularly by the first generations of Music Campers and members of the early AYO seasons.
It was not only the many students, certainly numbering in their hundreds if not thousands, who admired and respected Maureen, but also the music tutors, Council of National Music Camp Association, and later, the Board of Australian Youth Orchestra.
Maureen was associated with Music Camp from its very beginnings – firstly as a mere schoolgirl (being the daughter of long-serving clarinet tutor, Thomas White), and later as a young woman who had by then become Ruth Alexander’s absolutely invaluable assistant at the very heart of the National Music Camp Association.
With her quiet, behind-the-scenes activity and direction which helped substantially to ensure the smooth running of Camp, Maureen endeared herself to whole generations of Campers by assisting students in so many ways, and always with concern and sympathy. If there was a breach of library rules, however, Maureen would firmly correct a wayward student in the librarian’s typical, and expected, fashion.
In addition to her year-round work, Maureen became an automatic choice as Orchestra Manager and Librarian for the inaugural season of AYO in 1957, and she continued serving in these dual roles until 1970.
Members of the Board of AYO decided several years ago formally to recognize the value of Maureen White’s contribution by appointing her a Life Member in official recognition of all that she had done, including the personal sacrifices she had made over a lifetime, and for her outstanding dedication. This was an award richly deserved.