Somerset's leading lady recognised for service to state

A BELOVED former parliamentarian has been recognised for her services with the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award.

Presented by the Former Parliamentary Members Association of Queensland, the award was given to Beryce Nelson in recognition of her contribution to the Queensland Community following her retirement from the Queensland Parliament.

"It was a lovely surprise, but also a bit embarrassing," Ms Nelson.

"I wasn't expecting it. I didn't do all of that work with awards in mind."

Ms Nelson,72, has left a long legacy of ongoing contributions to the Queensland community.

She began her professional life as a radiographer, and was one of the founders of Down's syndrome Association in Australia, serving as President from 1978 to 1980.

She entered into politics to further her cause of supporting the disabled, winning the seat of Aspley for the Liberal Party in 1980.

In 1983 she became the first woman to be appointed to the role of Government Deputy Whip in Australia.

After being defeated in 1984, she went on to join the National Party, and reclaimed Aspley in 1986.

Toogoolawah volunteer Beryce Nelson.
Toogoolawah volunteer Beryce Nelson. Rob Williams

In 1989 she was promoted to the front bench as the Minister for Family Services, and was the third woman appointed a minister in Queensland until her defeat later that year.

Following her political career, Beryce commenced her own company again, which she managed from 1994 to 2001.

She also served on a number of state and national boards including Energex Ltd, Musica Viva, and the Abused Child Trust.

In 2001 she returned to academic life part-time and completed her Masters in Management, accepting a position as lecturer at the Brisbane Campus for the James Cook University.

She retired from this role in 2010, when she moved to Toogoolawah.

During her time in Toogoolawah she established a cultural heritage project, and is currently the Secretary of the Toogoolawah & District History Group, and sponsorship officer for the Somerset Arts Society.

"It gives me a lot of satisfaction, to be able to share indigenous and colonial history with the community," she said.

She remains an active member of the FPMAQ, fulfilling the former roles of President, Newsletter Editor and committee member.

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