ACT News

Tributes flow for Dragons Abreast ACT founder Anna Wellings Booth

 The Dragons Abreast ACT founder and respected advocate for women with breast cancer, Anna Wellings Booth OAM, has died. 

Mrs Wellings Booth died on Friday, with many paying tribute to the dedicated volunteer, remembering her as an inspiration and a truly beautiful person who made a real difference to the lives of women with breast cancer.

Anna Wellings Booth, centre, at the Dragons Abreast Corporate Regatta at Weston Park in September.
Anna Wellings Booth, centre, at the Dragons Abreast Corporate Regatta at Weston Park in September. Photo: Graham Tidy

Mrs Wellings Booth was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the general division in 2012 for her service to women's health through a range of breast cancer organisations and she founded Dragons Abreast ACT in 1999.

In a 2012 interview about receiving the OAM, the then-70-year-old said she would accept the award on behalf of all the committed and inspirational women who had been involved with organisations such as Dragons Abreast. 

Anna Wellings Booth, left, on the cover of the Canberra region Yellow Pages.
Anna Wellings Booth, left, on the cover of the Canberra region Yellow Pages. 

Mrs Wellings Booth was herself diagnosed with breast cancer in 1987 and she dedicated much of her life to raising awareness of breast cancer and took on dozens of voluntary breast cancer support roles.  

She was a foundation member of the Breast Cancer Network Australia and played a leading role in organising BCNA's first Field of Women on the lawns of Old Parliament House in October 1998, mobilising a team of volunteers to plant 12,500 silhouettes making up the field. 

She was a BCNA state representative for the ACT between 1998 and 2006 and a BCNA board member between 2001 and 2005, as well as a consumer representative for BreastScreen ACT, a founding member of Bosom Buddies, on the board of the ACT Cancer Council and a trained volunteer with the ACT Palliative Care Society and Cancer Voices ACT.

Mrs Wellings Booth also helped establish Calvary Hospital's Lymphoedema Clinic.  

BCNA policy manager Kathy Wells said Mrs Wellings Booth would be sorely missed by her many friends at BCNA and in the Canberra community. 

"Anna remained a committed advocate on behalf of women diagnosed with breast cancer, despite her own diagnosis being almost 30 years ago," Ms Wells said.

"She has made a real difference to the lives of women and their families, through her advocacy work, her work with ACT breast cancer support groups and Dragons Abreast, and her work with BCNA."

Dragons Abreast members spoke of their sadness at Mrs Wellings Booth's death in a statement released on Sunday night.  

"Anna made an enormous contribution to the quality of life for women diagnosed with breast cancer in our region and across Australia and will be greatly missed by her family and the many people she has touched and inspired.

"She was a tireless and effective advocate, highly respected in the organisations which she served, and well known and loved in the community for her inspiration, determination and hard work."

They said two of her favourite achievements were the acquisition of a dragon boat for the Canberra group and her role as co-author of A Dragon's Tale, a book which told the story of Dragons Abreast Australia.

A ceremony to celebrate Mrs Wellings Booth's life will be held at the Canberra Southern Cross Yacht Club, off Alexandrina Drive, Yarralumla, at 2.30pm on Wednesday.