Jan with her three grandchildren, Sascha, Silvan and Hazel (photo: Imogen Craney).
Jan with her three grandchildren, Sascha, Silvan and Hazel (photo: Imogen Craney).

Jan died on 2 June 2016 at 74 years of age from a blood cancer, multiple myeloma.

Jan lived in Glebe from 1983, initially on Glebe Point Rd with her family, then in Darling St and in Hereford St. For many years she also had a home in Mt Victoria in the Blue Mountains. Continuing her life-long interest in the environment, she joined the Glebe Society,

In 2006 the backyards of St James Ave and John St Reserve were identified as a blue wren ‘hot spot’. Bulbuls, willy wagtails, silver eyes and other small birds were also commonly sighted. In the following year, Jan wrote an article for the Bulletin entitled ‘Un-sizzle summer for our local Superb Fairy-wrens’ and she joined a group of local residents that gave a presentation to the Society regarding the concept of a project to preserve biodiversity and in particular to retain and establish habitats for blue wrens. Their plans were endorsed by the Society and the Blue Wren Subcommittee was established with Jan as a foundation member and later (2012-13) as its convenor.

The Subcommittee was successful in obtaining an environmental grant of $10,000 from the City of Sydney. About half the grant was used to employ a consultant ecologist, Sue Stevens, who wrote a landmark report entitled Superb Fairy-Wren Habitat in Glebe & Forest Lodge: a community based conservation project (2008). The remaining funds were used to purchase over 500 wren-friendly plants for a community planting day in Paddy Gray Reserve in Hereford St on National Tree Day (27 July 2008). Jan had a major role in the organisation of the planting day which was attended by more than 250 people! Since then she took a special and continuing interest in the Reserve and had responsibility for the further community planting days and working bees that have been held annually in the Reserve since 2010. These ongoing events have proved to be some of the most popular and best-attended community events held by the Society, especially as they involved lots of children.

Jan was an enthusiastic and knowledgeable member of the Subcommittee and her leadership skills also enabled her to make numerous oral presentations to meetings of the City of Sydney, including its Environment Subcommittee, as well as to staff from Parks and Gardens. She also helped write the Society’s responses to many reports published by the City (including Open Spaces and Parks, Street Tree Master Plan and Greening Sydney Plan). In recognition of her outstanding work for our suburb the Glebe Society awarded Jan its Commendation in 2013.

After growing up in Epping and attending MLC Burwood, Jan completed an Arts degree at the University of Sydney. Here she met her husband, Dennis, and they lived briefly in Hereford St. They moved to London where Jan worked for the Greater City Council in their travelling library. After the birth of daughters Anna and Imogen the family returned to Sydney and settled in Lane Cove. When their local bush valley was threatened by extensions to a golf course, Jan helped form the Lane Cove Bushland Preservation Society which was instrumental in saving the bushland. Jan continued her political and environmental activism when she was elected as an Alderwoman on Lane Cove Council.

Jan worked as a teacher then continued her study, completing a Diploma in Education at Macquarie University. Her subsequent appointments included those at Macquarie University, the NSW Ministry of Education, TAFE and the Department of Sport and Recreation, her work often focusing on Equal Opportunity. She was a committed member of the influential lobby group Women in Education and was involved in the women’s movement. Later she gained a post-graduate degree in Professional Mediation. She worked for many years at State Rail, moving into the area of risk management. After her retirement she worked in a voluntary capacity as an Official Visitor to psychiatric hospitals in the inner west.

Jan was separated from her husband Dennis but they remained friends, and sadly Dennis predeceased Jan by two months. The Society extends its deepest sympathies to Anna and Imogen and their families.

It has been the Blue Wren Subcommittee’s good fortune that Jan was there for all our occasions. In the last months of her illness she rejoiced in caring for her beloved Paddy Gray Reserve. Jan also so much enjoyed participating in the recent choice of native plants for John Street Reserve’s habitat garden – plants that would protect and provide food for blue wrens and other small birds as well as establishing a biodiverse environment in one of Glebe’s special pocket parks.