Woman’s Day (Australia)
BRAVE NEW MISSION
After losing her husband, the iconic Aussie actress is helping a cause close to her heart
Delvene Delaney has had an incredibly tough few years. Following the passing of her beloved husband, actor and businessman John Cornell in 2021, the TV darling has re-emerged into the spotlight to help save Australia’s wildlife.
Delvene has taken up a new volunteer role with the Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, which helps care for sick and injured native animals and birds.
“My desire to help animals began when I recognised the deep danger most of our iconic native animals are in, mostly due to human negligence, ignorance and intolerance,” Delvene, 71, tells Woman’s Day. “Witnessing the immense effort applied by the vets and vet nurses inspired me to take action in any way I could.”
Along with gifting a significant donation to the hospital, The Young Doctors star helps treat, feed and care for the injured wildlife.
“It can be confronting to see animals suffer and sometimes die,” she says. “On my third shift, I was asked to hold a baby honeyeater while the nurse prepared its food. I was stroking its feathers as softly as possible, trying to mentally coax it into recovery... but before the nurse had even finished preparing its food, it died in my hands.
“I found that very upsetting, but rallied round when I thought of how many animals are saved within this extraordinary facility.”
Despite the hospital having a no-name policy for animals in care, Delvene says she was honoured to learn that a brush-tailed possum had been named after her.
Delvene’s mission is also helping keep the memory of her comedy legend husband alive after he passed away following a 20-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
“John grew up in the WA bush [and] had an enormous love for our wildlife. [We] would spend most of our free days camping in the bush, looking for critters and absorbing the wonders of nature,” she says.
‘We vowed to support the animals of this country’
“From the very start of our long love, we vowed to support the native animals of this incredible country.”
Helping animals is something Delvene says she’ll continue to do for the rest of her life. “I am dedicated to continuing this work, not only for my own love of wild animals, but in respect for John’s love of them also.”