Myra Jill (Billie) Tohill has been playing the organ at St John the Baptist parish in Alexandra for more than 60 years.
She has played at Mass, at funerals and for other special occasions. On Trinity Sunday, June 7, she was presented with flowers at the church, in acknowledgement of her receiving the Queen’s Service Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
According to an article in the Dunedin diocese newsletter written by parish priest Fr Sani Lam, she received the award for services to both the Clyde and the Alexandra communities.
The citation for the QSM stated that Mrs Tohill has been a member of the Central Otago Pony Club since 1957. She was the Club’s head instructor from 1985 to 2001 and has been the District Commissioner since 2002. She started a new branch, the Clyde Pony Club, in 1963. She has been coach, president, and secretary of the Clyde Club.
She has been involved with the Clyde Theatre Group since 1947, and has been musical director of various shows for the Alexandra Musical Society since 1979. For the past 24 years she has been a key organiser and musical director for the Alexandra Blossom Festival Senior Queen event, celebrating the contributions of older women in the community.
For the past 15 years, she has been providing musical therapy for people with intellectual disabilities through Living Options. Mrs Tohill is an Honorary Life Member of Clyde/Alexandra RSA and a Life Member of Clyde Pony Club, Central Otago Pony Club, and Clyde Theatre Group.