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Yvonne E. Kennedy

Yvonne Estelle O’Prey was born to Jack and Mona O’Prey on the 29th of June 1939, in the Western suburbs of Sydney, Australia. Seven years later her brother, Barrie, was born. 

Yvonne attended Glenfield Primary School and furthered her education at Liverpool Girls High School, where she completed her Senior Certificate. Yvonne began working as a secretary and bookkeeper for ES&A Bank in Sydney. She worked for both the South Sydney Council and the Sydney City Council. 

Even at this early stage in her life, Yvonne was smitten by the travel bug and lived for a time in New Zealand. On returning to Sydney, she met the love of her life, Barry Leigh Thomas Kennedy. They courted and were married on the 16th of January 1972. 

In 1973, Leigh James Charles Kennedy was born and in the following year, Simon Paul Kennedy arrived. They grew together as a family and built the family home in the Sydney suburb of Toongabbie. Yvonne and Barry commenced their own successful business and traveled the world with their two boys. 

With two active boys constantly getting into mischief, Yvonne realized the importance of having knowledge of first aid and, consequently, in 1976 Yvonne joined the Australian Red Cross as a volunteer and First Aid instructor, reaching the rank of Commandant. 

On the 10th of May 1985, Barry tragically died, leaving Yvonne to care for the business and their two boys alone. Yvonne’s parents, Jack and Mona, moved to Toongabbie to assist her, and as the years went by, Yvonne tended to the needs of her aging parents and cared for them until their deaths. 

In 1990, Yvonne began her career as a full-time staff member at Red Cross. Her work involved developing the Voluntary Aid Detachment and Training and Coordinating First-Aid volunteers. The Australian Red Cross became Yvonne’s passion; she continued her work there until her retirement on the 15th of December 2000 and, of course, once again became a volunteer. 

Yvonne was awarded the “Australian Red Cross Distinguished Service Medal” in May 2001. In July 2001, she was elected Executive Officer of the Corps – a position she would never have the opportunity to fulfill. 

Yvonne proudly attended the wedding of her eldest son, Leigh, to Tracey Kathleen in New Zealand in March 2001. 

Her interest in travel never subsided. Yvonne decided to have the adventure of a lifetime – a tour of North America, Canada and the Arctic. She set off for her dream holiday on the 4th of August, due to return home on September 15th. Yvonne never made it home. Her trip was cut short by a tragic chain of events. Yvonne passed away happy, living her dream. 

She was the strongest pillar of her family. Her door was always open to those in need and those who wanted to see a friendly face. She was loved, respected and admired by all who knew her. She will be sadly missed by her family and friends. Her determination and her spirit will be with us forever.
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