HONOURED: Heather with a service award from Laidley Meals on Wheels. The ornament is one of her creations.
HONOURED: Heather with a service award from Laidley Meals on Wheels. The ornament is one of her creations. Francis Witsenhuysen

Heather King thrives on bringing hope

FOR almost 40 years, Heather King was the backbone of Laidley's Meals on Wheels, even though she has never driven a car.

"I didn't have a sense of great relief when I left Meals on Wheels,” Ms King said.

"I do feel quite good because I have confidence in the people running it now.”

Being able to help others and bringing joy or hope into someone's life was why Ms King stayed with Meals on Wheels for so long.

"You can't do anything better than Meals on Wheels to help people and it keeps people in their homes, it's the most voluntary caring service,” she said.

On May 4, 1977, she organised the first collection of meals from Gatton for delivery to 12 residents of the Laidley community.

Co-ordinating was done from Ms King's home where she organised volunteers, interviewed new clients, and handled administration.

Meetings were also held at the King residence.

Because the client base grew beyond the means of the Gatton kitchen, Ms King negotiated with Laidley Hospital for meal preparation.

The hospital kitchen continues to be the source of all meals delivered locally.

Meals on Wheels helps many to stay in their own home when practical issues, such as preparing meals, becomes difficult.

It provides many with regular home visits when they are otherwise alone and has helped many to maintain a nutritious diet when shopping and cooking becomes too difficult.

Ms King was the driving force of a service that relied on vehicles, but has never held a driver's licence.

The silent contributor to the entire history of Laidley Meals on Wheels was her late husband, Brian.

"If I did anything my late husband would be there, he was with me and supported me with the flower show and meals on wheels, especially with me never driving,” Ms King said.

She recalled when one staff members found a client in his home who was on his deathbed, while bringing him his meal.

"He called out 'I knew you would be coming' and they got him to hospital and saved his life,” she said.

"Those are the little things that make these things all worthwhile.”

Now Ms King has more time for her beloved garden club, her church and co- ordinating the annual flower show in the Laidley Spring Festival.

"It's my 39th year out of the 53 years it's been going for,” she said.

Ms King said the annual flower show once was the Red Cross Chelsea flower show but the Red Cross folded.

"The council said we can't have a spring festival without flowers,” she said.

"We were the Laidley Spring Festival, it was the only festival we ever had and as time went on everyone tacked themselves onto us.”

Ms King was born in Lowood on February 13, 1935, in Lowood Hospital

"I have lived in Laidley for 60 years,” she said.

She attended Mulgowie State School where she completed nine years of primary school.

She shared the story of how she met her husband.

"He was my partner at the Masonic debutante ball, here in Laidley,” she said.

"They don't have the balls any more, they used to be fun times.

"We had three wonderful boys and eight grand- children.”

Heather and Brian wed on April 7, 1956.

"We were married opposite our house, where the Laidley kindergarten is, which used to be the Presbyterian Church.”

For a profession, Ms King would make wedding dresses and wedding cakes.

"Sometimes I would do both,” she laughed.

"I made my own dress and wedding cake.”

Ms King described herself as a frustrated artist and a good one at that, but she got it out of her system by painting or making things.

"I've taught myself how to make a lot of things like themed backdrops and painted ornaments that look like paper mache, but it's just binding up paper, finishing with starch, then painting it,” she said.

"When you do a lot of love-jobs you have to work out cheap ways to do it.”

Ms King was an elder at Laidley Uniting Church for years, up until about 2012 and before that, she taught Sunday school for more than 20 years.

"I loved teaching it, because I always would have like to be a school teacher,” she said.

"Back then you didn't have overhead projectors so I would get my flip chart with all these scenes I had drawn. That's how I would teach the lesson.”

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