By Jessica Anstice
Heartfelt tributes have been paid to a mother-of-two who lost her four-year battle with leukaemia at the age of 49.
Much-loved community member, Kerry Holland, peacefully passed away in the presence of her children, mother and sister-in-law at the Austin Hospital on Friday 26 June.
Ms Holland will be dearly missed by her two children, Zac, 18, and Jazlyn, 17.
The incredibly brave woman was known for her fundraising efforts and for being the “backseat driver” of the Cancer Council’s Cardinia Relay for Life team ‘Where’s Wally Walkers’.
“Kerry was a relentless, magnificent fundraiser,” Ms Holland’s close friend Joanne Staindl said.
“She was one of those people who always sat in the background; she was the driver, the galvaniser, the energiser.
“The week after the relay, she would email everyone in the team to discuss plans for the following year. She was so determined to make everything she did a success.”
Leading Where’s Wally Walkers for the last four years, Ms Holland without-a-doubt made a difference in the fight against cancer.
Since Ms Holland established Where’s Wally Walkers, the team has raised thousands of dollars for cancer research.
Before Where’s Wally Walkers, she first entered the Cardinia Relay for Life in 2013 with the theme ‘Cancer Busting Fairies’.
Fellow team member, Jack Mitchell, described Ms Holland as a “sensational woman” and over the years, shared many “extraordinary” memories with her.
“Kerry was a detail driven young lady, mother to two great children, Zac and Jazlyn, who planned each aspect of her life and gathered people around her such that due to her community spirit and design capabilities the teams, batons, marques and fund-raising proved hugely successful,” he said.
“I feel blessed to have called Kerry my friend and will sadly miss our shared chai lattes where we solved the issues of the world or more importantly those of our town, Pakenham – I was forever impressed.”
Ms Holland’s colleague Simon Dunstan at SJD Homes in Pakenham, where she worked for the last four years, said she was one of a kind.
“As is our way at SJD Homes everyone gets a nickname – Kerry’s was ‘rowdy’ as she was such a softly spoken person. We soon found out that she could be the mouse that roared,” Mr Dunstan said.
“She was incredibly kind and selfless, but it is her humour that we will miss the most.
“She is going to leave a void at work but a gaping hole in our hearts and lives. Miss you already Rowdy.”
Colleague Lissa King, added, “She was our friend not just someone we worked with, our hearts are breaking.”
Ms Staindl said that no one who knew Ms Holland would dispute that SJD Homes was one of the best things to happen in the past four years of her life.
“She would drive herself to Alfred Hospital, have chemo, and drive back to work in Pakenham because she loved it so much. As an employer, they were magnificent,” she said.
“If anyone at the workplace was sick, they would set up separate eating places – they would always do that sort of thing for her.”
Ms Holland became well-known across the region in 2007, after winning in the Cardinia Business Awards, home-based category.
In 2004, she started up her own business – Imprint Graphics – and by 2010 she had moved into an office in Pakenham’s Main Street and renamed the successful company to Imprint Marketing and Design.
That same year, 2010, she entered the Cardinia Business Awards and was declared the Cardinia Business of the Year.
Ms Holland applied her design skills in support of many community events, which included the Cardinia foundation, helping develop the theme and producing the promotional materials for many years.
Ms Staindl said Ms Holland had amazing organisational skills – she always wrote extensive lists and had script-like handwriting.
“When she knew that she wasn’t going to make it, she still wrote lists for those she left behind to make things easier for them,” Ms Staindl said.
“She had planned what was to happen after she passed away so that people weren’t burdened by her – heaven forbid that dying would be a burden to anybody.”
In her final months, she spent a lot of time undergoing serious cancer treatment which involved many visits to the Alfred Hospital – a place she called ‘hotel Alfred’.
“It must be said that Kerry rarely lost the will to beat her disease whilst continuing to develop new ideas and projects but never in my memory seeking the limelight,” Mr Mitchell added.
“I am reminded of a beautiful song ‘Wishing you were somehow here again’ – rest in peace lovely girl.”
A memorial for Ms Holland will be held next week and livestreamed to Facebook.