Vol­un­teer­ing and gar­den­ing en­joyed

Thelma Fan­ning’s mem­o­ries are still strong

Central and North Burnett Times - - OVER 50S - Erica Murree erica.murree@cnbtimes.com.au

A HORSE and sulky along a cor­ru­gated dirt road 10 miles from Biggen­den car­ried Ethel and Henry Gra­ham to the Biggen­den Hos­pi­tal for the im­mi­nent birth of their six pound daugh­ter they called Thelma.

Ninety years on and Thelma Fan­ning said in those days there was no mid­wife or am­bu­lance while phones were very scarce and mo­tor cars were few and far be­tween.

“Even though five sons fol­lowed, be­ing the old­est I had to learn to milk by hand at a young age,” she said.

“I didn’t go away to col­lege like the rich kids as my fa­ther couldn’t af­ford it.

“In those days the dairy farms were 160 acres – and barely made a liv­ing.”

Thelma worked at the hos­pi­tal as a ma­ter­nity maid un­til she mar­ried Fred Fan­ning.

Sadly, Fred was only 53 when he was killed in a freak ac­ci­dent on the out­skirts of Biggen­den when a tree that had been burn­ing for three days fell and landed on his truck.

Mrs Fan­ning said he was on his third load of hay, cart­ing it from theWidgee area to Leith Bus­teed’s prop­erty just a short way down the high­way.

“I was only 46, had a lit­tle money saved but Cen­tre­link wouldn’t give me the widow’s pen­sion un­til I was 50,” Mrs Fan­ning said.

“It wasn’t easy but to make my­self a liv­ing. I opened my home to board­ers and took in wash­ing and iron­ing to sur­vive.

“I loved gar­den­ing and grew all the vegetables to feed the fam­ily.

“I al­ways had a chip hoe in my hands.

“Just loved be­ing out­side to be­ing inside do­ing the house­work.”

To­day, daugh­ter Aileen is her carer and she has taken over the gar­den­ing and the cook­ing, but Mrs Fan­ning is able to cut up the vegetables.

Mrs Fan­ning said she en­joyed vol­un­teer­ing for var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions dur­ing the years and was awarded Biggen­den Shire Coun­cil’s Cit­i­zen of the Year in 2008.

“I am now Pa­troness of the Biggen­den Show So­ci­ety but was trea­surer of the Ladies Com­mit­tee when Ma­bel McKen­zie be­came ill,” Mrs Fan­ning said.

“This was some­thing I had to learn as I only went to Grade 7. It was a bit of chal­lenge but with some help I man­aged it. Vol­un­teer­ing for Meals on Wheels I cooked the soup and dessert the day be­fore my ros­tered day.

“In those days we cooked the main meal at the Memo­rial Hall kitchen.

“De­liv­er­ing the meals with Ea­ton Giles I en­joyed see­ing the clients’ faces – in some cases it was the only visit they got.”

Mrs Fan­ning felt hon­oured when given life mem­ber­ship of the QCWA six years ago.

“I have been a con­tin­u­ous mem­ber since 1985 and dur­ing that time had held all ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tions with the ex­cep­tion of in­ter­na­tional of­fi­cer,” she said.

Mrs Fan­ning cel­e­brated her 90th birth­day with fam­ily and her Gospel Hall friends at the Show Hall last week.

“My mo­bil­ity is not what it could be but my mem­ory is ter­rific – you could say my mind’s will­ing but my body isn’t,” she said.

SHARE YOUR MEM­O­RIES

PHOTO: ERICA MURREE

NINETY YEARS YOUNG: Thelma Fan­ning has lived in Biggen­den 84 of her 90 years.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.