Still leading the pack
Prisoner of war still paddling on tougher than ever
CALOUNDRA’S Terri Stannard survived three years of near starvation as a prisoner of war in World War II, single-handedly raised nine children and spent a career educating the masses.
Those who know her say she’s made of tougher stuff than most.
For a life which saw her live on four continents, Mrs Stannard approached her 90th birthday in March with minimal fuss, surrounded by 200 loved ones.
She said it had been an “interesting” life, with the toughness from her teens giving her steel and determination like few women.
“I learned a lot when I was a teenager,” Mrs Stannard says, recalling the dark days of the war.
“I had to adapt and grow up fast, to look after my mother.”
She was in Java, Indonesia, when the Japanese invaded. In just five days they came, saw and conquered. She was separated from her brother and father, locked up in barbed-wire fenced camps.
“They knew they couldn’t kill us all off, but they could starve us out. That was the intention,” she said gravely.
“Boys at 12 were taken away. My father and brother were taken away. We didn’t know where they went.
“Anyone who made contact with us was severely punished.”
After the Japanese surrender in 1945, Mrs Stannard was reunited with her family, something she thought was impossible.
She made her way to Europe, married and had nine children. She moved to Australia as a widow, with eight of her children.
The retired maths teacher’s weekly routine includes bike riding, yoga, bridge and kayaking, often leading the pack.
“I was lucky enough to have never been injured or have an accident,” she said.
This week 25 of her closest friends from Suncoast Seniors Recreational Kayak Club paddled from Mooloolaba to Buddina to celebrate her milestone, the sprightly 90-year-old naturally out in front like she has been her whole life.
NOT GIVING UP AT 90: Former Japanese prisoner of war Terri still loves to kayak.