School superstar

Phyllis Blackmore (97) and Grace Donnelly (9). Picture: Bruce Hunt d403830
Phyllis Blackmore (97) and Grace Donnelly (9). Picture: Bruce Hunt d403830

The sprightly Nedlands great-grandmother shows it is never too late to start something new, becoming a mentor at the school five years ago after being encouraged by her ‘youthful’ friend, 83-year-old Erica Bailey, who has mentored at the school for many years.

Both women help a small group of Year 3 students with literacy and reading weekly through a one-on-one mentoring relationship.

As a volunteer with the School Volunteers Program, Phyllis said it helped keep her young and she enjoyed it.

‘If I can help them read better, that makes a difference to them and makes a difference to me,’ she said.

‘Children need confidence, a bit of praise, to realise they can do as well as anyone else.’

Phyllis won a Shell Scholarship at school in her native Queensland in 1929 when she was only 13 years old.

During World War II, Phyllis became secretary for the civilian navy responsible for the shipment of stores to the US and Australian military in the South West Pacific under General Douglas Mac-Arthur.

‘I have no intention of hanging up my school satchel yet; I intend to carry on mentoring for many more years to come,’ Phyllis said.

The School Volunteering Program Supports 2200 students in 240 schools and screens and trains individuals for other volunteering roles, such as literacy support, breakfast club, classroom assistance and design and technology.

Individuals or businesses interested in volunteering one hour a week can call 9444 8646 or email