National Executive

EXECUIVE

National President

NSW State President – Rhondda Vanzella OAM

A Guild member since 2014, Rhondda began her term as NSW State President in 2016. Rhondda is also a member of the Remembrance Driveway Committee, an Ambassador on the NSW Government Centenary of ANZAC Council, member of the RSL Ladies Auxiliary, an affiliate member of RSL Bundanoon sub-branch and President of the RSL Rural Commemorative Youth Choir.

Previously, Rhondda was Vice President of the Kangaroo Re-enactment March from Wagga Wagga to Sydney and spent 15 years as Electorate Chief of Staff and confidant to Dr. Brendan Nelson AO.

National Treasurer/Secretary

Qld State President –  Jenny Gregory

Jenny has been Australian War Widows (Queensland) State President since August 2016.

She is the war widow of Winston Spencer Gregory, a Malaya, Vietnam and Singapore Veteran. She has worked in various capacities over the years, from volunteering in the Solomon Islands to working as a registered nurse at a residential aged care facility where she later became the Director of Nursing. Her passion for caring for people with dementia motivated her to help establish a Dementia Network in Canberra. She became the inaugural President of Alzheimer’s Australia ACT Inc. and worked in this capacity for many years. 

Jenny joined Australian War Widows (Queensland) shortly after her husband’s death in 2013 and became State President in 2016.

Jenny holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in Nursing Science and a Graduate Diploma in Health Services Management.

ACT State President – Dr Kathryn Spurling

Dr Kathryn Spurling (nee Norris) served with the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS). Her father served with the RAAF in Bomber Command Europe during WWII and her elder brother served with the Australian Army. She married Nigel Spurling, an RAN Electrical Engineering Officer and they had two sons. Elder son, Ashley, graduated from the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) as an RAN Mechanical (Marine) Engineering Officer and served on surface ships before moving to Collins Class submarines. His wife, Emily, was also a submarine engineering officer. They are now Defence contractors living in Canada. Younger son, Bryden, is a senior Defence Strategic Policy Advisor. Nigel died in 2005, aged 60, his service included duty during the Malaysian/Borneo conflict and the Vietnam War.

Kathryn was attached to the University of New South Wales at ADFA between 1996 and 2011 where she tutored, and guest lectured on a range of history subjects and strategic studies. She has lectured extensively overseas in the United States, Denmark and NATO Headquarters, Brussels, on military subjects. Between 2012-2014 she was a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University and from 2014 to the present is an Adjunct Visiting Research Associate, Flinders University. She has published broadly and is the author of ten books. Kathryn was a member of the ACT Chief Minister’s Veterans Advisory Council for 10 years and has held positions with several ex-service organizations.

WA State President – Emily Cook

Emily took on the role of State President for the Australian War Widows – WA in June 2020.

 After completing a Diploma in Secretarial Studies, Emily worked at the Royal Perth Hospital as a shorthand typist.  Emily continued her career at Royal Perth Hospital for 46 years.

It was while working at the hospital Emily met the love of her life – Warren.  Warren had served in the Royal Australian Navy for 21 years. After retiring from the hospital, Warren became an advocate for the Vietnam Logistic Support Veterans Association WA, working out of an office at RAAFA Bull Creek. He continued to do this until his passing in 2017.

Emily greatly admired Warren’s tireless effort and dedication, and that of the other advocates at Bull Creek, assisting fellow veterans. By joining Australian War Widows, Emily hopes she will be able to contribute to the veteran community by advocating the needs of widows and veterans’ families.

SA State President – Jan Milham

Jan’s husband served in Korea and Jan was widowed at the age of 45. Jan lived in the country and has since moved to Adelaide.  Jan has three adult daughters, is a grandmother and great-grandmother.

Jan is a volunteer for Anglicare and is involved with Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Jan enjoys the theatre, movies, music and travel.

Immediate Past National President – Meg Green AM

Meg has been a member of the War Widows’ Guild of Australia NSW Ltd. since September, 2008.  Meg joined the Guild following the death of her husband, in May, 2008.  Meg’s husband was a veteran of the Vietnam conflict having served in Vietnam from 1970 – 1971.  He was assigned to 1 Field Troop.

Meg was appointed a Member Director on the New South Wales Board in 2010 and completed her 6 year term in 2016.  Meg also served as State President of the NSW Guild for one year and since 2014 has been the National President of the War Widows’ Guild of Australia.  From 2012 – 2014 she was also the National Treasurer of the War Widows’ Guild of Australia.

Meg is also the coordinator of the Younger Members group in NSW and is a member of the NSW Centenary of Anzac Advisory Council, a Centenary of Anzac Ambassador, an alternate director on the Board of AVCAT and is also a committee member of VCES.

Meg has had a long career in the nursing, retiring from the public sector prior to the death of her husband.  Whilst employed in the public sector she worked as a general clinical nursing in both surgery and midwifery before moving into management in the field of Waiting List/Bed Management.  After retiring from the public sector she worked part time in the aged care sector.  Whilst working in the aged care sector she took on the positions of President and Vice-President of the New Horizons Aged Care Branch of the New South Wales Nurses and Midwives Association.

Meg is a Registered Nurse and a Registered Midwife.  She also has a Certificate in Orthopaedic Nursing and has also completed a Masters of Nursing.

Meg was awarded an AM in the 2019 Queens Birthday Honours List.

Banner photo courtesy of the Australian War Memorial

“We all belong to each other. We all need each other. It is in serving each other and in sacrificing for our common good that we are finding our true life.”