Community involvement part of zest for life

January 30, 2019 BY

JANET RUNDELL What a hoot: First Alfredton Scout Group’s Janet Rundell loves to host the Joey group at her home, encouraging them to share in her curiosity for owls Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

JANET Rundell loves her close-knit family, her special friends and to travel.

She loves ballroom dancing and the quirkiness of owls, but one other thing that has always been constant in her life has been service to others.

Throughout her childhood in Alfredton, Mrs Rundell saw her maltster father, Fred and her pianist mother, Alice, host children from the Ballarat Orphanage to give them respite.

By the age of 18, Mrs Rundell had been through Loreto College and started her own volunteer work, invited into the St Patricks Parish Pastoral Council as the youngest youth representative ever.

Fast forward a few years since the 70s, and her service has had a wide impact across the Ballarat community.

She said she’s been a “busy bee.”

In the past five decades, Mrs Rundell has volunteered in aged care, with St Vincent de Paul, in schools, with St John Ambulance and has been the vice-president of the Loreto Past Pupils association.

She has been the secretary of St Patrick’s Social Committee, has passed on her great passion for ballroom dancing to young people at St Patricks Hall, presented debs, been a Rotaract member and even a fashion model at fundraisers.

Since 1987, she has been involved with the Big Sisters Little Sisters program, supporting young people as if they were her own younger sibling.

But for the past 15 years and counting Mrs Rundell has been dedicated to building the 1st Alfredton Scout Group’s Parent Support Committee as its secretary.

She has fundraised to support families that struggle to pay their Scouts fees. She also hosts groups of up to 18 Joey Scouts at her home multiple times a year, getting them involved with cooking and gardening.

This is something that brings Mrs Rundell. or “Aunty Janet” as the Joeys call her, so much joy.

A great lover of the mysticism, harmlessness and uniqueness of owls, she has owls scattered throughout her garden and the children love to count just how many there are.

For all these reasons and more, Janet Rundell has been nominated as one of the Zonta Club of Ballarat’s Great Women for 2019.

Mrs Rundell’s friend, Catherine Bone, nominated her for the award and invited her over to tell her about it over copious pots of tea. They met working at Phoenix College.

“We share a wonderful bond and zest for life… and I’m very close to her little boy, Jack,” Mrs Rundell said.

“When she told me, I went, what! I’m extremely humbled. I cried.”

Looking forward to meeting the other ‘Great Women’ at Zonta’s presentation in March, Mrs Rundell is also excited for what’s next with her family, friends and service.

She treasures time with her “wonderful” little family, her Scout leader son Jamie and grandson Zayden, whether down at the beach or at their weekly Thursday night dinners.

As a passionate traveller, Mrs Rundell has been all over the world, often independently, and one of her most memorable trips was discovering the hidden, but apparent poverty of the holiday destination, Fiji.

“Travellers don’t see it,” she said. “It gave me insight and appreciation. People have nothing.”

But this time, her next journey will be with husband Tony, who she met at an old-time dance event 32 years ago and married three months later.

“Wherever I am, he’s right beside me. Tony says, ‘it’s a wonder you sleep’ because my mind is always working.”

They’re set to board The Ghan railway later in the year for a trip of a lifetime and might even think about Canada the next year.

“We love trains,” she said.

Together, they’ll continue to potter around their vast garden – at the family home Mrs Rundell has lived in her whole life.

Having gathered friends from all over the country and world, Mrs Rundell keeps a busy schedule, catching up with all the treasured people in her life from all walks, locations and ages. Organising activities or day trips for them to enjoy is another of her specialties.

“Some friends we’ve had for 40 plus years,” Mrs Rundell said. “I’m so grateful to have a network… friendships are pretty special.”

She hopes to get involved with more food charities and animal charities, as she’s loved animals her whole life and misses her Kelpie, Cindy who passed away two years ago.

But there are some things that will never change, and her commitment to advocating and supporting Ballarat’s youth is one of them.

“We need to be involved with youth,” she said. “It’s something I love doing – mixing with them and nurturing them. They’re our future.

“My philosophy is, I believe that we are on this earth to help other people and do what we can while we’re here.

“Giving back to my community provides me with immense fulfilment.

If one person can make a difference, it’s good.”

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