|John Low, MC, and Muriel's friends and family.|
"In 2010, she resigned from the Chair but carried on helping as she always did. And then in 2012, she resigned from the Trust but accepted the position as Museum Manager so she could carry on doing what she always did. It was about this time that her health issues were manifesting themselves, but Muriel would not let on there were any problems; she just carried on doing what she always did. In the days before she made her last trip to the hospital, she boxed up the relevant files of organisations she had been involved in and ensured that they be delivered to the appropriate people which epitomises Muriel's stoic character - she was always thinking about everybody else."
|Barbara Brown unveiling the plaque and Mark Crawford.|
Barbara, who had travelled from Christchurch, thanked all who had been involved to recognise her mum's service to the community, and thanked everyone for coming along. "Mum worked really hard, and she worked tirelessly. And she didn't expect any reward, and you all know how hard it was to do anything for her. But the plaque and the commentary here are a really fitting way to recognise Muriel's contribution and service to the community, and I'm very proud to have been asked to unveil it on behalf of the family."
|Peter Ayson of the St John Ambulance Service, Otautau.|
Peter continued, "In recognition of the tremendous number hours of commitment Muriel put into St John's, Her Majesty the Queen approved Muriel's award, the title being Serving Sister of the Order." St John's also awarded her a Life Membership in 2000.
|Jim Flett of Scotts Gap where Muriel grew up.|
|Raylene Greer of the Invercargill & Districts Budget Advisory Service.|
|Raewyn Black, VP of the Southland Justice of the Peace Association.|
Raewyn, then speaking as the President of the Western Southland Floral Art Club, said:
"Although she wasn't a member of our club, she was probably our most avid supporter. Whenever we'd stage an exhibition or display around the town, she was always the first to acknowledge what a great job we were doing. I clearly remember last year's exhibition in the church when she said, 'oh, you girls are wonderful. I don't know how you do it.' And then she started to clean up after us. For many years we sold Mother's Day bouquets from her drapery, and as a way of thanking her to allow us to use her shop, we'd often put together a design which she could sit on her counter to enjoy. She'd often write lovely wee letters back to us, sometimes enclosing a cheque saying, 'thank you so much for the lovely flowers. Now this isn't a payment, it's just a donation to the floral art club.' And then she'd carry on, often saying, 'Mrs So and So wasn't feeling so good so I hope you don't mind but I popped the flowers round to her because I thought she could do with them more.' And that was Muriel - humble, caring and generous to a fault. Always thinking of others. And try as we may, we could never pay her back for all the things she did to support us over the years.
"Muriel's passing has left a huge gap in the Otautau community, and we certainly miss seeing her striding it out down Main Street. I was once told that you can't change the world; all you can do is look after your own patch and hope it makes a difference. Well, Muriel Brown certainly made a difference in her patch. I sincerely hope that the example she set to the people of Otautau is picked up by more of its residents encouraging them to step up to the plate like she did because the world can certainly do with more people like Muriel Brown."
|Peter Campbell of the Otautau Museum Trust.|
"That purposeful stride as you watched her walking down the street said a lot about her character. Muriel was always going somewhere; she had a mission in life. She was always a gracious person and a great encourager...quick to give praise to others but very reluctant to receive praise for herself.... She had an indomitable spirit...Muriel never ever gave in to her declining health and let it get in the way of the service that she provided and the thought that she had for everyone. She thought more of others than she did of herself."John Low returned to the podium and thanked everyone for their contributions and encouraged all to continue to share their thoughts and memories of Muriel over a cup of tea and refreshments.
For the eight months following her death, we've had the opportunity to privately contemplate the life of this sterling soul whose light shone so brightly in our little community. This evening was the first time to actually share what she meant to us publicly. Thanks to all who attended and to those who made this happen.