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Obituaries Australia

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MacKinnon, Eleanor Vokes (1871–1936)

from Sydney Morning Herald

Mrs. Eleanor V. L Mackinnon, whose death occurred at North Sydney yesterday, was known all over the world for her outstanding work for the Red Cross Society both during and after the war. She was a member of the executive of the New South Wales division from its inception in 1914, and founded the Junior Red Cross, which subsequently spread its activities throughout the world. She possessed great gifts for leadership, organisation, and public speaking, and was widely known also for her national, social, political, and charitable work. She was the widow of the late Dr. R. R. S. Mackinnon, and it was as Mrs. R. R. S. Mackinnon that she was so well known.

The formation of the New South Wales Division of the Red Cross Society was largely the outcome of efforts pioneered by the Women's Liberal League, of which Mrs. Mackinnon was a prominent member. Her devoted work in the early stages of the society won her places on the State executive and on the Australian council, which she held until her death. She also held the positions of honorary advisory secretary, member of the finance and advisory committees, honorary publicity officer, editor and founder of the Red Cross Record and the Junior Red Cross Record, and honorary life member and member of the house committee of Graythwaite. During the war she acted as honorary director of Red Cross branches, and director of the produce depot.

For her valuable war work, Mrs. Mackinnon was in 1919 created an officer of the Order of the British Empire.

Her most notable success was the establishment of the Junior Red Cross. From a modest beginning in Sydney, this movement to-day possesses more than 700 circles, or branches, in New South Wales, with a membership of more than 40,000 children, and is established in more than 40 countries throughout the world, with a total membership of about 11,500,000 children. Mrs. Mackinnon was honorary director of the Junior Red Cross until recently, when ill health forced her to relinquish the office.

The enlargement of the Red Cross activities into channels of useful peace-time work was, in a great measure, due to her foresight, She was largely instrumental, in 1925, in bringing the society in line with similar bodies in other countries, where efforts were being made to combat tuberculosis. Since then the New South Wales Wales Red Cross has assisted the State Government in its fight against the disease.

In 1925 Mrs. Mackinnon was appointed substitute delegate for Australia to the Sixth Assembly of the League of Nations at Geneva. In the same year she was appointed a Fellow of the Senate of the University of Sydney, and held office until 1929 when she resigned. In 1929 she was appointed a member of the Hospitals Commission. Her efforts resulted in the formation of many new auxiliaries. She had acted as editor of the Hospitals Magazine since 1934.

Mrs. Mackinnon was associated with the National party and later the United Australia party for 25 years. She had been a member of the central executive of the U.A.P. since its formation, and a member of the literary committee, and the U.A.P. Women's Club executive. She was a vice-president of the old National Association, and of the old Liberal League, and was one time leader of the Women's Liberal League.

Mrs. Mackinnon had many other interests, including the protection of animals. She was keenly interested in Sister Kenny's work for sufferers from infantile paralysis. A collection of her verses, The Golden Land, was sold for the fund to establish the War Memorial Carillon at Sydney University.

She is survived by two sons, Messrs. Roger and Robert Mackinnon. There will be a service at St. Philip's, Church Hill, at 10.30 o'clock this morning, after which the funeral will leave for the Northern Suburbs Crematorium.

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'MacKinnon, Eleanor Vokes (1871–1936)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 15 August 2020.

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