Melissa Ann Nielsen

Melissa Nielsen (nee Beven) passed away on 10 June at the age of 38, less than one month after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Born and bred in Far North Queensland, Melissa completed her law degree at James Cook University in Townsville before working in Brisbane immediately after her admission to practice. In 2005 she returned to the far north, commencing work with Miller Harris Lawyers in Cairns. Her talent as a lawyer, and her dedication and empathy for all soon became apparent. She successfully juggled the challenges of motherhood and career, developing a solid practice in commercial law and becoming a partner in the firm in 2013.

Melissa was much more than a lawyer. She constantly thought of others, sharing a kind word or a laugh, offering her assistance whenever she could, or just baking some sweet treats. With her cheerful disposition, sense of fun and determination to make things better, she became the life and soul of our firm. She brought out the best in us, and enriched the lives of those around her.

Melissa’s dedication and influence extended well beyond our firm. She willingly gave her time to many community organisations, including the Cairns Women’s Legal Service, school parents and friends associations, and her local soccer club. She was a board member of Advance Cairns Ltd for several years and travelled to Brisbane and Canberra, lobbying on behalf of the Cairns region. She was also a champion for maternal health, saving the lives of mothers in childbirth in the Pacific through her support of the charity Send Hope Not Flowers, for which she was integral in raising over $165,000 in recent years.

Prior to her passing, Melissa expressed a wish to establish an annual scholarship in her name for a female year 12 student at Babinda State School, her alma mater, who demonstrated leadership and support for others. The fundraiser to do so quickly reached its goal. It was typical of her that rather than dwell on her devastating circumstances following her diagnosis, she immediately began planning for what was to come.

The outpouring of tributes in the days following her passing is a testament to the high regard in which she was held in the Far North Queensland community. She was an extraordinary person, inspiring business partner, and irreplaceable friend.

Melissa leaves behind her husband Rudy and three young children. Our hearts are with them at this time.

We, and all in her extensive network of family and friends, will miss her terribly.

Nigel Hales, Miller Harris Lawyers

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