HELPING WHERE SHE CAN: Faylie Cook is a member of the Maitland branch of the Red Cross.

Morpeth war widow and Maitland Districts Red Cross secretary Faylie Cook first heard about the work of Red Cross through her late husband, ex-serviceman Dudley Cook.

Mr Cook served with the RAAF in Korea and Vietnam conflicts.

“Dudley would tell me about the parcels that would arrive while he was overseas and how exciting it was to get something from home,” she said.

“It was in 2001 that I joined the Maitland branch.

“The most important part for me [about Red Cross] is serving humanity, the blood bank service and the work done by Red Cross around the world.

“Then there are services provided by the Red Cross many people might not know about, such as save a mate.

“It is being part of an international organisation.”

There are 18 women and one man (Des and Ruth Cross of Metford are husband and wife members) who form the Maitland Districts Red Cross branch today.

“Our main fund-raising comes from hoi every month held at St Peter’s Anglican Church meeting room, our fashion parade which raised $800 and Red Cross coffee shop at Maitland Private Hospital, which brings in thousands of dollars every year.”

Mrs Cook lived through the 1955 flood in Maitland and during the June long weekend floods of 2007, the volunteer was called up for Red Cross duty.

“I spent four hours at Maitland High School that Sunday,” she said.

“Red Cross was recording the names and addresses of people coming through the door.

“These were the people who had to get out of their homes because of rising flood waters – most from Lorn and lower areas of Maitland.

“The police had asked them to leave and we helped by recording the evacuees details.

“Some were so upset to leave their homes they could hardly speak.

“I had to ask for Medicare cards to get their information.

“One lady turned up with her five children. She was in shock and in a terrible state.

“That was our role on that day and it went on for hours. Red Cross Cessnock branch was called into help as well.”

Mrs Cook and other Red Cross branch members were awarded a state medal for their services on that long weekend.

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