Cinderella soprano had a passion for pet welfare

Norma Edith Cave was born in Sydney on Christmas Eve, the only child of Norman Cave, a greengrocer, and his wife, Edith Clarke. She showed early signs of musical talent and her mother encouraged her, arranging piano and guitar lessons and buying a rare 1855 Louis Panormo guitar. Norma entered eisteddfods, appeared in concerts and on radio and, at 12, started voice lessons planning to be an opera singer.

Graduating from St George Girls High, she became an accounts clerk at the Commonwealth Research Laboratory until having to leave to nurse her mother. Yet she continued singing in amateur shows and competitions, joined the Savoyeurs Operatic Society and had leading roles in Gilbert and Sullivan and other light operas.

During World War II, she sang in concerts, particularly those raising money for the Red Cross and the "Food for Britain" fund. After the war, she went to the Sydney Conservatorium of Music for a Licentiate in Music and an Associate Music Australia (AMusA) diploma in singing. Her professional career started in 1948, with 2UE's Colgate-Palmolive Radio Unit, where she became known as the station's "Cinderella soprano".

A regular on such programs as Calling the Stars, she also broadcast live for the Ticket of Leave, Melody Times and Starlight Variety shows. In 1950 she changed her stage name to the more euphonious Norma Cavell and was frequently billed as ''the adorable songster of radio''.

Faulkner also loved folk music, particularly Australian, and Aboriginal music. She became known as Australia's only "Lady Troubadour", singing and accompanying herself on her Panormo guitar.

Music, alas, didn't keep her. When she married Leslie Faulkner in 1956, she was working by day as secretary at Trinity Grammar, Ashfield, while singing in clubs at night and expanding her repertoire to include blues numbers.

She also took in typing work, often for musicians such as Peter Sculthorpe and Richard Gill, and started freelance writing. Her writing appeared in magazines and newspapers and she entered the Sydney Eisteddfod creative writing sections. She was still winning eisteddfod prizes for writing in the late 1990s.

In the late 1960s, Faulkner had started as the music teacher at Casula High and stayed there until 1987. Then in 1988, at an age when most people think of retiring, she joined MacKillop Girls High (now Holy Spirit), Lakemba to teach typing, often working with special needs students. She finally retired from that work early this year.

In 1978, Faulkner had founded DABS, the Domestic Animal Birth Control Society, originally dedicated to promoting the welfare of domestic animals, particularly by the desexing of cats and dogs. The society expanded into rescuing animals and providing new homes for them.

She lobbied ministers, councils and agencies, and pressed the point to the media. In her last days in hospital, she was remonstrating with the nurses taking her blood samples and dictating instructions for DABS.

Norma Faulkner is survived by her son Glenn, daughter-in-law Stana and grandson Thomas. Leslie Faulkner died in 1988.

Harriet Veitch