A funeral and memorial service will be held today for Nola McMahon, a well-known Mullumbimby identity with a flair for organisation and performance – and a passion for helping children.
The service will take place at St Johns Catholic Church from 11.30am and her daughter Alison has asked those attending to ‘wear something colourful to help us celebrate.’
In her time, Nola ran concerts and school productions, managed bands, assisted a group of Russian acrobats/ dancers and some internationally renowned Russian gymnasts.
Perhaps most importantly, she helped many kids realise their potential, and to find their voice and their feet.
The journey to organiser extraordinaire began with her arrival into the world on 22 April, 1937. Her father dabbled in a range of careers, including a taxi driver, funeral director, real estate agent as well as a share farmer.
Nola enjoyed a happy childhood in the Tweed region with her brother and sister, and met her teaching husband Brian at Tweed Heads, reputedly at a social tennis game. Marriage beckoned and Nola and Brian had two children – Alison and Michael. They lived for many years at Laverty’s Gap near Mullumbimby.
After working as a nurse in the emergency department at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney and later in Mullumbimby, Nola became the school nurse at Mullumbimby High School, and it was during her time there that she developed an interest in audio visual equipment.
Nola really was ahead of her time with AV technology. She became an expert, and within a relatively short period of time she was put in charge of all school productions, concerts and presentations.
She mentored students to take on the role of using the equipment, learning about audio-visual production themselves, and using their initiative to set it up themselves in all the classrooms throughout the school. Many went on to have their own careers in this area.
Nola managed many bands that started from students at the High School wishing to perform to a wider audience. She always encouraged people to broaden their vision of what was possible in life.
When a troupe of Russian acrobats/circus performers became stranded in Australia, Nola took time off, organised sponsors, and went on the road with them while they toured Australia. Nola later helped sponsor some Olympic level Russian gymnasts to come to Australia.
Nola’s gift really has always been her ability to draw in kids and get them involved. If they didn’t want to perform, then they could still play a role behind the scenes. She has endless patience and a talent for giving people direction. She didn’t do anything for glory; she genuinely just loved helping kids.
It was fitting that Nola went on to receive a Melvin Jones Scholarship Award for her work with helping children in schools.