Olive Weston was born in Townsville in 1926. A cream-skinned tomboy, she joined the Girl Guides, Junior Red Cross and VADs. Her ambition was to be a medical missionary working in New Guinea, where her grandfather owned gold mines.
However, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor she decided her already considerable nursing skills should be redirected. Putting up her age, she was seconded to the American 12th Station Hospital in Townsville. She stood with General MacArthur's finest nurses in his bunker at Townsville as he spoke of the challenge before them. She helped as they treated over 23 000 troops: casualties of tropical disease and the bloody fighting in New Guinea.
Repatriated at 18, suffering malaria and dengue fever, she continued nursing until she married in 1952. When she learned her only son was intellectually handicapped, she showed the determination and compassion born of wartime nursing as she set about improving the appalling conditions and attitudes that confronted the handicapped.
Years later she is still fighting for them. Awarded the OAM and the OOA, Olive Weston is a champion of the underdog.