In biblical times archangels battled with the grim reaper.
That war between life and death, light and dark, resonated with Susan Turner and inspired her to incorporate the conflict into a car design that raises money to help families with sick children.
It reflected her own struggle with the death of loved ones. Two of her daughters died as babies, her ex-husband died suddenly after a heart attack, and her mother died in a horrific car crash shortly before her son Stevie was born with cystic fibrosis.
The emotional turmoil she faced challenged her love of life, and caring for a sick child put her at the forefront of a world with limited outside support.
Underneath her immense grief she found a burning desire to create change, and when Make A Wish Foundation fulfilled Stevie’s wish to see the dolphins at Sea World, she realised she wanted to help other families receive the same experience.
“I felt so vulnerable then, up until then I’d never in a million years have thought that someone I didn’t know would do something for my little boy and let him put his feet in the water with the dolphins,” Mrs Turner said.
She joined Child’s Vision Australia – a charity that helps children with life threatening illnesses – and started raising money.
Over the years she has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Two years ago she entered the pageant world so more people would hear her message. Up until then she had been mentoring her daughter in pageant competitions and helping other entrants.
She was named runner-up in Mrs Australiasia 2015, her first pageant, and then placed in other competitions before she took out Mrs Air Australia in the Ms Earth Australia quest earlier this month.
“It has given me an ability to speak to people from all over the world and I haven’t had that before,” Mrs Turner said.
“Helping makes me feel better and my ambition is to be a community ambassador.
“There’s no coping strategy to follow when you’re going through something like this, it’s up to yourself and other people to go out there and support each other.”
Mrs Turner takes her car, a WRX, to car shows across the Hunter and other charity events.
“The grim reaper was advertised on television when I was younger, so I thought it was something people would easily recognise,” she said.
“It intrigued me and it took a lot of the pain away from me … Feeling sad and sorry for myself wasn’t a solution.”