Emerald’s dynamic duo: local couple enhances veterans' lives through volunteering

25 May 2024
  • ANZACspirit
  • Veteran stories

Noel and Margaret Mallyon have helped veterans through Emerald RSL Sub Branch for 45 years. From promoting commemorations throughout the year to providing welfare support, the couple has had great impact on veterans within the Emerald community.

Noel served in the Royal Australian Navy for six years throughout the 1960s and 70s and has been part of the Sub Branch’s committee since its early beginnings. He later took over as President, serving 30 consecutive years to date. 

His wife, Margaret, has been right by his side as a volunteer fundraiser, organising merchandise stalls for key commemorative services throughout the year. Some of these local services have attracted more than 3,000 attendees due to the couple’s efforts.  

“I don’t remember a time that I haven’t been volunteering,” Margaret says.  

“I have been involved in it all my life and since marrying Noel, it’s just increased.” 

Emerald Sub Branch members

Image: Emerald Today - Noel and Margaret Mallyon selling badges and pins in the lead up to ANZAC Day

“My merchandise stalls include a good affordable raffle and donation helmet. Looking back at last year, I am proud to say that for ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day alone, I raised $16,544.”  

“Margaret always says she sells and I speak,” Noel says with a laugh. 

“She handles the merchandise stalls and I promote our upcoming services to the community or encourage veterans to become members.” 

In addition to Noel’s service background, Margaret and Noel both come from a military background with several of their family members – including their son – serving in the Australian Defence Force.  

“I have got good at letter writing over the years,” Margaret explains.  

“But when my son was deployed to Afghanistan for seven months, I sent him and nine of his friends food parcels every Monday morning, so they could enjoy goodies from home during isolating times.” 

The parcels were not only sent to Afghanistan, Iraq and the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt where their son’s friends were deployed. Margaret thought the parcel delivery was particularly important for them to have around Christmas. 

Emerald RSL Sub Branch members deliver christmas hampers

Emerald RSL Sub Branch member deliver Christmas hampers

Noel and Margaret believe it’s important for veterans to know they are thought of. Over the past three decades they have noticed that small gestures can make a big impact in someone’s life. 

“For me, it’s the satisfaction of helping people who need it, but may not necessarily realise they do,” Noel says. 

“Especially for veterans – it's great assisting them with things they think they may not be able achieve on their own.” 

As Emerald RSL Sub Branch President, Noel has multiple responsibilities in terms of assisting veterans, but the welfare space is a particular point of focus for him. From home to hospital visits to poppy services and pointing individuals in the right direction when it comes to DVA claims, Noel sees value in this type of volunteer assistance at the Sub Branch. 

Emerald Sub Branch members

Members of the Emerald RSL Sub Branch

“It was important to me to get involved in the welfare space because originally, when manual 

 claims were still used, it was a very challenging process for veterans to go through,” Noel explains.  

“While the claims process is now digital, it’s still essential that we keep our finger on the pulse so anyone who has served gets the support they need and deserve.”  

For their unwavering efforts at Emerald RSL Sub Branch, Noel and Margaret both received Australia Day Medallions in 2024. This year, Noel was also awarded RSL Australia’s highest honour – the Meritorious Service Medal.  

“You don’t do it for the reward, but as one of our members said, ‘It is also recognition of Emerald RSL Sub Branch as a whole’,” Noel explains.   

“I think it’s also a reflection of the nearly 45 years that Maragaret has been by my side, supporting and helping me in big ways.” 

Noel and Margaret Mallyon

Noel (center) receives the RSL Meritorious Service Medal


National Volunteer Week shines a light on the ways volunteering brings us all together, builds community and achieves vital work across Australia. Find your local RSL Sub Branch and become a member of RSL Queensland, or learn about other volunteering opportunities at volunteeringqld.org.au.