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Committed to Making Life Better for Young People

With all that is currently happening on the frontline of vaccination, I thought you may be interested to know of the part that Pat Franklin played, in the 1950s, to help combat the polio epidemic. As one of our honoured past members of the Victorian Unit of Australian Church Women (ACW), a tribute to Pat appears in our National Honouring Australian Church Women Book. I have adapted her tribute for this week’s blog post.

Patricia Dawn Franklin, always called Pat, was a woman of faith and commitment. A devout Christian, she gladly gave her time and service living up to the motto of the Girls’ Friendly Society (GFS Inc, a ministry of the Anglican Church):

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2 KJV).

Born on 12 November 1928, Pat grew up in Victoria and attended Sunday School at her parish church of St Stephen’s, Gardenvale. She continued to worship there as an adult, becoming a devoted Churchwarden. Pat was a keen and bright student, firstly at Holy Trinity School in Balaclava, then Mac Robertson Girls’ School in Melbourne’s CBD.

Pat loved people and travel – she was quite an adventurer. When she first travelled to Britain, she rode her bike around the country on a two-year working holiday. On her return to Australia, Pat was employed at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) in Melbourne, where she later worked on the Salk Polio Vaccine. This vaccine was developed in the USA, in the early 1950s, by the American physician Dr Jonas Salk.

Pat was in one of the first groups to be vaccinated against polio – believed to be 18 months before it was available to the general public. Her work on the Salk Vaccine was on the production side, and she was the only woman laboratory assistant working on the vaccine from the time it was first introduced.

On leaving CSL, Pat decided to pursue a teaching career and trained at the Melbourne Teachers’ College. She taught at several schools before promotion to Deputy Principal at the Albert Park Primary School. Whilst there, she received a special award for her initiative in starting an animal farm for the children, which was very successful. Later, Pat became Principal of the Tucker Road Primary School in the Melbourne suburb of Bentleigh. She loved children, and they responded well to her, as she always had a smile and a very hearty laugh. Pat firmly believed in education, and she continued to add to her own formal education. She studied for and attained a Bachelor of Theology post-graduate degree.

Pat loved sport too and was an ardent St Kilda Football Club supporter; she also enjoyed cricket, which she had played, and hockey. On her retirement, Pat took up golf. She attended the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne and had booked tickets for the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Pat was involved in many church and community activities. In the Victorian Unit of Australian Church Women, she served several years as the Fellowship of the Least Coin Convenor and a term as President, representing the Anglican Church.

The Girls’ Friendly Society was particularly dear to Pat, and she attended ten World Councils of the GFS. Pat ‘held the posts of: Branch Leader of All Saints East St Kilda, Chairman of the Oakleigh/Mt Waverley district, a member of GFS Melbourne Executive (including Chairman and Secretary), Commonwealth Leadership Training Officer (1972-1994), GFS Australia Secretary (1969-1972), and GFS World Secretary (1969-1972).’ She was also made a Life Member of GFS.

Her tenth GFS World Council was held in South Africa, and she was accompanied by her friend, Mrs Lorna English, a fellow GFS and ACW colleague. After this council meeting, these two friends embarked on an African travel adventure. It began with much excitement and anticipation but, sadly, Pat became ill when they were far from medical assistance. On 8 August 1999, before that much-needed help could be provided, she passed away without completing her adventure.

Pat was greatly missed by all who knew her. The tribute to her in the Honouring Australian Church Women book concludes with:

May our memories be full and happy for a lady who loved God, loved life, and lived it to the fullest.

Bearing one another’s burdens, Self forgetting every day

Thinking how to ease another, She could do and she would say

Cheering simply by her presence, Those who seemed a friend in need

By some little self denial, Pat did prove a friend indeed.

The Girls Friendly Society, Melbourne, recognised Pat’s years of commitment and faithful service by establishing the Pat Franklin Foundation. She had served GFS Melbourne, GFS Australia and GFS World. The purpose of the Pat Franklin Foundation is ‘to provide assistance to members of the world-wide society of the Girls Friendly Society, however named in the member country. It is intended that the recipient/s develop leadership skills or gain experience to further the ministry of the Society in whatever way it is conducted in the country of origin.’

Truly, another remarkable woman who touched the lives of so many and blessed the members of Australian Church Women and affiliated organisations.



ACW national records and the GFS Pat Franklin Foundation application.

Link to GFS Australia Inc


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This Herstory Blog of Australian Church Women Inc. tells the stories of the women and activities of this national Christian organisation that was founded in February 1965.

Stories that inspired and encouraged me to begin this blog and share their inspiration with you. Stories that need to be told so that the women of ACW can be honoured and celebrated for their achievements and experiences in local, national and international communities of faith. And, most importantly, stories that demonstrate being disciples of Jesus Christ firmly underpins all that Australian Church Women represents.

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