Lady Storey and Ruby Storey: A Lifetime of Service

Lady Storey’s birth name was Rachel Agnes Doig. She was born on 6 January 1864. In 1883 she married David Storey, a young Irishman. Rachel soon gave birth to Ruby Evelyn. David and Rachel built Sherbrook in Randwick, 20 Coogee Bay Road: home for Ruby and her four brothers.


Sherbrook House

Sir David Storey and Lady Storey succeeded in business, politics and community service: for 26 years he was the member for Randwick in the NSW Legislative Assembly and a Cabinet Minister. Lady Storey lived for her family and the Red Cross among many other charitable causes.

Sir-David-Storey-and-Lady-Storey.jpeg?mtime=20220804110424#asset:30297Sir David Storey and Lady Storey

Lady Storey became one of the ‘best-known women in the state’. She was the Founder and President of the Randwick Branch of the Red Cross, and Commander of the Randwick Veteran Affairs Department. Each year her Branch raised £100. She was a member of the Executive for 15 years; president of the Forum Club for 3 years; a member of the Victoria League; a member of the League of Loyal Women, (formed to scrutinise government spending) and the Royal Empire Association. For over 50 years she worshipped at the Randwick Presbyterian Church. She convinced the Claremont Old Girls Union to raise money for a cot at the Children’s Hospital raising thousands of pounds.

The Old Girl: Ruby Storey in Red Cross Uniform


Ruby Storey entered Kindergarten at Claremont in 1888 and matriculated in 1900. She was Dux and won the prize for Languages and Scripture. Like her mother, Ruby was active in community work, endlessly knitting clothing to send to the soldiers in Gallipoli and France.

In 1914 she was the honorary secretary of the Red Cross Randwick Branch while her mother was the chair. For the following 53 years she organised fetes, fancy dress balls, dinners, musicals, knitting and sewing, harbour tours and gifts of cakes and flowers for the Children’s Hospital.


Ruby Storey: third from the left at the Randwick Red Cross Stall, First Australia Day 30 July 1915

Ruby described herself as “her mother’s spare part.” Despite her life of fundraising and social organisation, she claimed, Really, I’m nobody and I don’t do anything interesting. Rare humility. On at least one occasion she organised a Gala Ice Cabaret, at the Glaciarium. The proceeds went to homes for “delicate” children: a euphemism for tuberculosis. She organised a half-holiday at the Coogee Preparatory School: the boys raised £148 for the Red Cross. The following year they raised £450! Ruby and her mother were also chiefly concerned with looking after the comfort of the wounded soldiers in Randwick General Hospital in the 1920s-30s.

Ruby was appointed MBE in 1936 and won the Florence Nightingale Medal in 1949 for services to the Red Cross, one of 36 awards worldwide. In particular, she supported Shuna, in Leura, a preventorium (tuberculosis hospital) for convalescent soldiers’ daughters. The Shuna home was the first of hundreds established around the world with some 16 million members.

Both mother and daughter devoted their lives of community service. Ruby did not marry because this was her calling.


Ruby Storey

Photographs courtesy of the State Library of NSW

Vic Branson
1 August 2022