The Hon Dr Kay Patterson
The Hon Bill Shorten MP
Ms Wilma Smith


Appointment as an Honorary Life Member is the highest honour that the Australian Boys Choral Institute can bestow upon a member of the Choir community. Honorary Life Membership is recognition for someone who has made enormous contributions to the organisation and has consistently and steadfastly demonstrated their support for the Australian Boys Choral Institute.


Robert Graham

Rob became involved with the Choir when his son, Cameron, joined in 1992. He became a Registered Member in 1997 and joined the Board in 1998. Rob became Deputy Chair in 2000 and shortly after became Chair. A role that he continued until 2009. On stepping down as Chair, Rob continued on the Board, taking on the equally demanding role of Honorary Secretary, a role he continued until 2017, completing an amazing 20 years of service as a Board Member.

Rob has acted in virtually every role there is in the Institute with his ‘can do’ attitude. He has always been prepared to roll up his sleeves to do any job that is necessary. His knowledge of the history and governance of the ABCI is unparalleled, and fortunately he has agreed to advise when necessary in the future. On a personal note, current Chair, Stephen Duffy notes that Rob has been a huge support for him in his role as Chair, and we will sorely miss Rob's knowledge of the Institute, his fearless advocacy for the organisation, and, in particular, his wise counsel.

Rob continues as an interested and active member of the Choir family and with his wife, Lorraine, has been a regular, long-standing and most generous benefactor.


Elwynne Stafford

Elwynne and her husband Jeff became involved with the Choir when their son, Peter, joined in 1964. Another of their sons, Neil also joined in 1968. Elwynne and Jeff were regular carers on camps, attending at least seven Summer Music Schools. We should note that in those days, Summer Music Schools were routinely 10 days in length. Elwynne and Jeff’s roles as carers on the many Summer Music Schools set the standard and developed many of the practices that the Choir continues to use today.

Elwynne was also entrusted, as sole caring staff, with the care of the 25 boys on the Choir’s first overseas tour to Japan in 1971, lasting 36 days. The importance of this role cannot be overstated as you can imagine what a big step this was for the boys and their parents – in 1971 most adults in Australia had not undertaken overseas travel, let alone 10-14 year-old boys.

Elwynne was a Registered Member of the Institute from 1983 to 2004, was Secretary to the Board in 1988, and has been a regular benefactor and concert attendee, continuing to support the work of the Choir.

Elwynne passed away in September 2020.

A very special highlight for me was being ‘mum’ to 25 delightful young choristers on the first overseas tour of the Australian Boys Choir, spending 5-6 weeks touring in Japan in 1971 with the excellent team of Tour Manager, Assistant Manager and Accompanist/Conductor. My involvement and interest in the Choir and the ABCI continues to this day and I wish them well as they move forward in excellence.


Cathie Hallam

Cathie became involved with the Choir when her son, Tom, joined in 1993. It didn’t take long for her to put up her hand to help, at first with the Wardrobe/Stagewear Team, but Cathie’s involvement lasted long beyond her son’s retirement from the Choir in 1998. Cathie continued her work with the wardrobe team, acting as Team Leader for a number of years.

She also helped out with caring roles throughout her involvement, at first at events like Installations and concerts, attended weekend workshops and ultimately became Caring Team Leader, attending or supervising at least six Summer Music Schools, countless weekend workshops and acting as Carer for an amazing four international tours including USA 1998, Rome 2000, USA 2000, USA & Canada 2002. Cathie was “Choir Mum” to a generation of Choir boys, being a constant, calm beacon at the helm of the Caring Team.

Throughout these years, Cathie has also been a huge support for the music and administrative teams and a strong influence on the Choir community. Cathie was a founding member of the Team Leaders Council, involved with the Friends of the Choir and participated in a variety of strategic planning initiatives. In addition she was a Registered Member of the Institute from 1999 to 2006 and with her husband, Ken, has been a regular benefactor and concert attendee, continuing to support the work of the Choir.

What a wonderful opportunity it was for me to be able to volunteer for the ABCI. At times extremely busy, very tiring and even frustrating, but overall, thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding. I loved it all. There are so many memorable times. I recall one very touching moment when I witnessed a nine year old chorister comforting another nine year old with his teddy, at lights out on a tour to Rome. That first child's support and companionship meant so much to the second child and helped him continue on happily. Many other times I listened behind the scenes to a successful concert knowing the boys had worked so hard, then watched their enormous excitement, relief and satisfaction afterwards. It was such a pleasure to listen to some of their lessons and hear what even the youngest boy could achieve. I enjoyed their letting off steam in the payground and admired their adherence to the strict routines of workshops and tours. What a priviledge to see and hear such beautiful music and watch these energetic and highly able boys grow into such fine young men.


Ken Connor

Ken became involved with the Choir when his son Bill joined in 2001.

Ken attended concerts, soirées and other social activities, forming lifelong friendships within the Choir community. He enjoyed participating as a Carer at Summer School, and appreciated the privilege that is; to listen to the boys train and witness the development of both their musical and personal skills. He became a Board Member and Registered Member in 2005, serving on the Board for 15 years until his retirement in 2020. He was involved in many Committees during this time and was Deputy Chair for the last 8 years.

Ken remains an interested and active member of the Choir family and, with his wife Janice, continues to be a regular and generous benefactor.

“I love that the Choir allows boys to find a place where they feel comfortable to pursue their passion with excellence.”