CARING NATURE: Judith Read will be remembered for dedication to helping others.
CARING NATURE: Judith Read will be remembered for dedication to helping others. contributed

Final farewell: Caring mum remembered for devotion to others

JUDY Read was a caring and supportive soul who devoted her life to helping others.

During her lifetime, she sought to help family, friends and strangers. On Friday, her life was remembered during a funeral service at St Paul's Uniting Church.

She died on Friday, July 5, after battling a rare form of ovarian cancer.

Her maternal nature could be seen in all parts of her life, within her family, friends, neighbours, professional work and her hours of volunteering.

Mrs Read's family said she opened her home and heart to anyone in need and helped set many young people on the right path to becoming successful and happy.

Judith (Judy) Ann Johnson was born in Ipswich on December 13, 1950, to Gladys and Mervyn Johnson.

Judy Read cared for her father in law when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and knows how important respite care is. Photo Lee Constable / Daily Mercury
Judy Read cared for her father in law when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and knows how important respite care is. Lee Constable

She was the middle child of seven children. She had three older brothers - Raymond, Graham and Trevor - and three younger siblings - Roselyn, Ian and Wayne.

She attended primary school at Ipswich Central Girls School and then Ipswich Bremer High until year 10.

As a teenager she worked at Morris Woollen Mills Redbank and as a live-in nanny for a local doctor and his wife.

She married Vance Young at the age of 18 and they had two children, David, born in Ipswich in 1969 and Wendy, born in Dalby in 1971.

Mrs Read trained as an assistant nurse in Dalby and spent two and half years nursing at the Jubilee Psychiatric Hospital and in Richmond.

Judith Read in the 1970s.
Judith in the 1970s.

After her first marriage break down, Mrs Read moved to Cooroy, Sunshine Coast, to pick ginger. But she returned to Ipswich and met Alf Mcclurg.

The couple moved to Mackay in 1975 where their daughter, Susanne was born in 1977.

Mrs Read began her own contract cleaning business, which she ran for 18 years. During this time, she also cared for her father-in-law, Alan Mcclurg.

After her father-in-law passed away, her relationship with her partner broke down and she worked as a full-time carer for the disabled.

She also began working in the aged-care sector with Blue Care Home Care Dementia and Blue Care Nursing, a role she later resigned from in 2008 due to ill health.

Judith Read and her husband Peter in 2019.
Judith and her husband Peter in 2019.

During her time with the dementia Unit, Mrs Read met carer Bill Chidgey. Together in 2004 they formed a subsidiary of Alzheimer's Australia.

Mrs Read truly understood the impact Alzheimer's disease had on a person's life. As the co-ordinator for Alzheimer's Australia Mackay Region Inc, she met many people affected by the disease.

It was the 10 years caring for her Alzheimer-suffering father-in-law that gave her a real insight into the illness.

"It was terrible, I didn't realise what he was going through, even with my years as a nurse I hadn't come across any of it before and I had no support,” she told the Daily Mercury for a Our Community Hero story.

"There were no services provided then and no one knew anything about the disease - it really got me down and was mentally draining.”

Judith Read in 2000.
GOODBYE: Judith Read in 2000.

Having no support during her caring years, Mrs Read was one of the founding members of not-for-profit Alzheimer's Australia Mackay Region Inc in August 2004.

She volunteered 24 hours a week helping carers and suffers of Alzheimer's with support and information. Mrs Read was also a full-time Blue Care in-home care worker and worked with the Mackay Spinal Injuries Association.

She would spend 69 hours per week helping others.

Mrs Read wrote the column Living With Memory Loss for the former Daily Mercury publication Mackay Midweek for many years. Her weekly story would discuss issues relevant to Mackay and Alzheimer's disease.

She was also proactive in fundraising efforts for the group and held regular raffles, cent sales and other events to keep Alzheimer's Australia Mackay Region Inc going.

Mrs Read was nominated for numerous awards for her community involvement.

Judith Read and her daughter Wendy in the 1980s.
Judith and her daughter Wendy in the 1980s.

She accepted the Queensland Community of the Year Award (2013) on behalf of Alzheimer's Australia Mackay Region Inc and the Commonwealth Bank Special Commendation Award.

She was passionate about her organisation and set about gaining a qualified education.

She completed a certificate in Disabilities and Age Care, Certificate in Assessment & Workplace Training, Dementia Certificate, Living with Memory Loss Training for Group Facilitators, Certificate in Business Administration, Behaviour Management, Workplace Health & Safety and First Aid. In 2018 she topped her class with a Bachelor of Dementia Care through the University of Tasmania.

"The last 23 years have been the happiest times of mum's life, although her body may have been falling apart. Her happiness came from being married to the most wonderful man, Peter Read (who I call dad), for the past 19 of those years,” daughter Susanne Cronin said.

She said they had known each other for more than 40 years but started courting in 1997.

Judith Read and her daughter Susanne.
Judith and her daughter Susanne.

They married in 2000 and Mrs Read's family grew to include stepdaughters, Kirstin and Nicole.

"Between the five siblings, she has 10 grandchildren, Teanna, Rochelle, Chloe, Chelsea, Zane, Norisha, Nakita, Michael, Billy and Krystal. Mum was blessed with a great-grandson, Mason, when her eldest granddaughter gave birth December 2018,” Ms Cronin said.

Mrs Read was a member of several clubs and organisations throughout the years, Ten Pin Bowling, Lions Club and the District Philatelic Society.

Judith Read in the late 90s.
Judith in the late 90s.

"Mum was a leading light of the Mackay community and her tireless efforts and support will be greatly missed. Anyone who met mum, I am confident to say that she has left an everlasting memory,” Ms Cronin said.

Mrs Read's family have decided Alzheimer's Australia Mackay Region Inc will close. They said her role and passion for the organisation had been paramount in its success and at the moment there was no one to take on the role.