Judith Durham to be honoured at Victorian state memorial service next week

The public service will be held inside the Hamer Hall at Melbourne's Arts Centre

Judith Durham’s forthcoming public memorial service has been announced by the State of Victoria, where the late frontwoman of The Seekers will be honoured by her friends, family and peers.

Durham – an Essendon native and lifelong champion of Melbourne’s local arts and music scene – died on August 6 at the age of 79. She was admitted into the palliative care ward at Prahan’s Alfred Hospital a day earlier, and passed away as a result of complications from her lengthy struggle with a chronic lung disease.

Word of a state memorial in Durham’s honour came within hours of her death, with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews saying he had received the personal blessing of her family.

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The politician described Durham – who, between The Seekers and her own solo material, released 20 studio albums from 1963 to 2019 – as “a true icon of Australian music”, and asserted that “her memory will not only live on in her numerous hit songs, but in the hearts of generations of Victorians and Australians”.

The public service is scheduled to take place next Tuesday (September 6), and will be held inside the Hamer Hall at Melbourne’s Arts Centre in Southbank. Doors will open at 6pm with the service due to commence an hour later. The service will be be free to attend; however, those wishing to pay their respects to Durham and her family will need to reserve tickets, which can be done here.

Additionally, the service will be livestreamed on the VIC Government website; more details on that will be made available here in the coming weeks.

In lieu of flowers or other forms of physical tribute, organisers have suggested that fans of Durham should donate financially to Motor Neurone Disease Australia – which, per its website, is “the national peak body of state organisations that support those living with and impacted by Motor Neurone Disease”. The charity is one that Durham was a vocal supporter of during her lifetime.

Following Durham’s death, Athol Guy – The Seekers’ longtime bassist and a close friend of Durham’s – wrote in a statement on behalf of the band. “Our lives are changed forever, losing our treasured lifelong friend and shining star,” he wrote. “Her struggle was intense and heroic – never complaining of her destiny and fully accepting its conclusion. Her magnificent musical legacy [is something] Keith, Bruce and I are so blessed to share.”

Over their 60-year tenure, The Seekers enjoyed a plethora of accolades. In 1967, they were named joint Australians Of The Year. They were inducted into the ARIA Hall Of Fame in 1995, and the same year, Durham was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM). In 2014, each member of the band was individually honoured as an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).

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