BIG WIN: Una Gray (right) volunteering with the Inala Meals on Wheels team.
BIG WIN: Una Gray (right) volunteering with the Inala Meals on Wheels team. Peter Cronin

Pioneering lady wins top award

SHE was a pioneer of the Stanthorpe wine industry back in the 1970s and 1980s, and fast forward a few decades and Una Gray has received an accolade for a whole other line of service.

Una has gone from operating a winery to making items for children with cancer. It's her philanthropy and charity work that saw Una honoured with Brisbane City Council's Senior Citizen of the Year award last week.

"I'm very happy with the award. I know there are very many people these sort of awards should go to. I've always been happy if I could do something to help other people,” Una said.

Bob and Una Gray purchased land south of Stanthorpe in 1974 where they'd go on to establish Rumbalara, now the second oldest winery venture on the Granite Belt.

"It was an absolute surprise. I did not know anything about the nomination. I received a letter in the mail, it came a month before Christmas and I was asked not to tell anybody. I told my family of course though.”

Una was invited to attend Brisbane Lord Mayor Graham Quirk's Australia Day Awards ceremony to receive her honour.

She also attended the citizenship ceremony in Brisbane City Hall on Friday morning as a guest.

"That was the biggest naturalisation ceremony held in the whole of Australia. There were hundreds and hundreds of naturalisations taking place. It was all very interesting.”

Una sold Rumbalara back in October 2002, but she still has very fond memories of her Stanthorpe days.

"I have lovely memories of my time there but it was very, very hard work,” she said.

These days, Una spends a great deal of her time working for Pillowcases for Oncology Kids.

At 88 years old, she works with the grassroots charity to deliver handmade pillowcases to children suffering from cancer, as well as their siblings. She leads a team of 13 dedicated ladies, who craft and deliver the sewn creations.

Under Una's leadership, the charity has donated more than 2000 pillowcases to date.

She previously worked with Inala Meals on Wheels until she was advised by her doctor to slow down.

Despite that, Una has found other avenues to help her community in Brisbane's southwest, by working with Rotary, Probus and National Seniors Australia.

In 2007, Una also initiated a walking group at Forest Lake Shopping Centre in association with the Heart Foundation.

"Una is an outstanding community leader who shows no sign of slowing down. She is a true inspiration to young and old alike,” her award nominator said.

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