Quest for Life Senior Support person Merilyn Fowler has maintained a passion for helping people experiencing loss, anxiety, and trauma since she first attended a residential program during work placement for her counselling studies in October 2016.
Today, the now qualified counsellor regularly acts as one of the two support people who attend each five-day residential program held at the Quest for Life Foundation’s Bundanoon Centre in the NSW Southern Highlands region.
“It’s just really rewarding work,” Merilyn says of her role.
“I work on all of the different programs, with each program including two facilitators, two support people, a counsellor, and a massage therapist, so there’s a team of six of us. We all work very closely as a team and we all love the work we do.”
“I really love my job. It probably sounds corny, but it fills my heart to see people improve so much during the program. I tell my kids that I get to see magic happen.”
Merilyn, who is a bereavement counsellor outside of her work at Quest, acts as a Senior Support person across all of the Quest for Life residential programs including Quest for Life, Healing Your Life, Moving Beyond Trauma, Reclaiming Your Brain, and Taking Control of Chronic Pain.
“There have been so many special moments over the years. I’ve seen people who arrived looking lost and broken and who leave the program looking like a different person. And some of the beautiful things people say to you, such as, “it’s changed my life.’”
Where the magic happens: a place of hope and healing
Asked what message she had for people who are considering attending a Quest program but need some encouragement, Merilyn said: “Be brave and come along”.
“It’s such a nurturing, peaceful and non-judgmental environment and you will be really well looked after. They’re great educational programs and they really will change your life in profound ways if you apply what you’ve learned. Plus, the food is amazing – you’ll be very well fed with delicious healthy food and juices!”
Quest for Life, Founder and CEO Petrea King described Merilyn as a “beautiful person” with a generous and compassionate heart. “She’s a great team player whose presence at Quest’s residential programs is greatly valued by staff, fellow team members and participants”.
“Merilyn is quietly attentive to everyone’s needs and goes about her role in a compassionate and unobtrusive way”.
Trailblazer cricket scorer
As well as being a valued team member at Quest, Merilyn’s efforts outside of work have also been lauded due to her contribution to the team sport of cricket.
Earlier in her life, Merilyn was a trailblazer as one of the first female cricket scorers in Australia, after taking up the hobby at the age of 15.
“I started on Hawkesbury first grade and just broke the rose petal ceiling,” she says. “The first game I did was a one-day game.”
“I was the first woman to do a Test match in New South Wales and I’ve been told the first woman to score a men’s Ashes Test match – at Lords in 2009. I actually have the original score sheet! The Ashes Test was the last game I scored.”
Although one of her friends, Laurel Kirton, was technically the first woman to score during a Sheffield Shield game in February 1976, as Merilyn puts it, “they didn’t know she was a female” before she was appointed due to some pre-game shenanigans.
“Laurel wrote a letter putting herself up for it, but she only wrote her first initial ‘L’ on the letter with her surname and the return correspondence from NSWCA was addressed to a ‘Dear Mr Kirton’. Laurel rang the Association a fortnight before the game and ‘fessed up’.
After 2 or 3 seconds of silence, the reply was, “Oh Hell – turn up anyway”. She wasn’t allowed in the Members’ Stand and had to report to one of the doormen who then found the NSW steward, who escorted her to the press/scoring area in the Noble Stand. After that game, she scored for the ABC from 1976 to 2018.
Merilyn was the first one to score senior men’s representative cricket as a known female, “the first woman knowingly selected,” Merilyn laughs.
In 2015, a year before attending her first program at Quest, Merilyn became a member of the Hall of Fame for the NSW Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association (NSWCUSA). In 2018, she was also made a Life Member.
Although Merilyn has now stepped down from the various cricket committees she once sat on, she still acts as a mentor for some of the younger cricket scorers coming up through the ranks and is a Life Member of the Hawkesbury Cricket Club.
Upcoming residential program dates:
There are 34, 5-day residential programs at the Quest for Life Foundation’s Southern Highlands Centre scheduled for 2022.
Browse our Events Schedule for specific program information and dates.
Generous subsidies available
Generous subsidies are available to assist people to attend Quest’s residential programs for a wide range of circumstances, thanks to generous donations from the community.
For a confidential chat, please call our Programs Team on (+61) 1300 941 488.