The eventual formation of the June Keynes Foundation – the June Keynes Story
I was approximately 200 kilometers North West of Meekatharra in 2000, completing a survey for PMH on Aboriginal Children’s Health, when an aboriginal woman that I was interviewing reached across the table and touching me on the arm said,
“Your mother saved my mother’s life”!!
Yes this was Margaret Simpson’s daughter, now a young woman with children of her own and June had saved Margaret from dying 30 years before from the pink Strychnine poison tablets they had found at the dump earlier that morning by getting her to vomit up the poison. But mum couldn’t save her younger brother who was too far gone.
June Keynes was a young bride who came from SA in 1950 with her husband Les Keynes and two small daughters into the tough, hard country of the Murchison region of WA, 800kms north east of Perth.
She quickly slipped into the role of a bush nurse/carer to family, friends and especially aboriginal families working on the station. As so many women of her generation did she toiled for her family overcoming all the immense difficulties that pastoral country can throw at you. Surviving cyclones, floods, droughts, fires and lost children, with the closest neighbours’ been 50 kilometers away for assistance, she quickly developed the ability to smile and overcome.
Teaching correspondence school to her four children and others for 22 years was her definition of just get on with it.
A fierce supporter of the underdog, always helping and urging on with that encouraging motherly smile. “Come on dear you can do it “, she would say.
Quite spiritual and religious she was extremely compassionate and nonjudgmental about her fellow man whatever his/her color, creed or beliefs.
People and specially children loved her because her beauty shone through, as she had years before singing under Royal Command to the thousands of troupes in WW11 after which time quite understandably she had numerous proposals to marriage.
As somebody who knew her well said, “whenever you hear June sing, the hair stands up on the back of your neck”.
June died finally in hospital in Perth where the author was fortunate to be with her after a long fight with the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease on March 16th 2000 in the evening.
She embodied everything that was beautiful, positive creative and worthwhile in her life and set such an amazing example for people to follow.
The futuristic formation of this foundation is in honour of her.
I would like to build a Hospital and Bank in WA in the not too distant future in her name. She would love the idea of a Hospital.
June Shirley Keynes 1922 – 2000. RIP Mum may we make you proud.
Greg Keynes 14/11/2002