MAR­I­LYN CULELL

THIS MULTI-TAL­ENTED ROBINA WA­TERS GRAND­MOTHER HAS LED A HIGHACTIVITY LIFE, ON AND OFF STAGE

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - PEO­PLE - AS TOLD TO DENISE RAWARD

Igrew up in Mel­bourne with an older sis­ter and a won­der­ful mum and dad. We had a great child­hood. There was sing­ing in the house and although my par­ents didn’t have a lot, they worked hard to send us to a good school.

I met my hus­band Frank when I was 15. I got a job in the bank and we both worked there to­gether. Frank was six years older than me — I wasn’t in­ter­ested in a cal­low youth my own age. We got mar­ried when I was 20 in Oc­to­ber, 1960.

I’d had my first child and was preg­nant with the next one when Frank de­cided he was sick of be­ing an ac­coun­tant at Ge­orges depart­ment store in Mel­bourne. He an­nounced we were go­ing to open a restau­rant. He didn’t re­ally find what he was af­ter so he was look­ing fur­ther afield. I said if we were go­ing to move, I’d love to go to the Gold Coast where my par­ents had a lit­tle place on the beach, so that’s what we did.

I didn’t know how hard it would be hav­ing a young child with no friends or fam­ily around. I was very lonely and even though I loved the Gold Coast, it was hard.

Frank ended up buy­ing a mixed busi­ness at Tu­gun and we lived in the flat up­stairs. It was open six and a half days a week and I served in the shop, try­ing to en­ter­tain a four-yearold and breast­feed the new baby.

My old­est son even­tu­ally went to Twin Towns kindy and there was a lady there who’d put the other moth­ers through a list of 12 ex­er­cises she could re­mem­ber from school. I’d al­ways liked ex­er­cis­ing so I started go­ing. I was so grate­ful to find some­thing like that.

She even­tu­ally asked me to take over the classes. I didn’t know too much then but I thought the ex­er­cises would be much more in­ter­est­ing with mu­sic so I put some­thing to­gether. It was 1966, a long time be­fore aer­o­bics or gyms. The classes got so big, we had to hire a big­ger hall to fit ev­ery­one. As it got more pop­u­lar, I was ap­proached by Na­tional Fit­ness, who were launch­ing the Life Be In It pro­gram, to run more classes and pretty soon I was teach­ing ev­ery morn­ing from South­port to Mur­willum­bah.

I started train­ing other in­struc­tors and we added babysit­ters so moth­ers could ex­er­cise and their chil­dren would be looked af­ter. It was al­ways very so­cial, a great sup­port for moth­ers. I made a lot of won­der­ful friends.

By this time, we’d sold the shop and bought the Rain­bow Dry Clean­ing and Laun­dry Ser­vice. I’d had quite a few mis­car­riages so baby num­ber three was a sur­prise packet.

When things were a bit more un­der con­trol with my three boys, I worked up the courage to au­di­tion for the mu­si­cal Ok­la­homa the Spot­light The­atre was putting on. I’d al­ways loved mu­sic and thought I’d try out for the cho­rus.

I ended up get­ting the part of Ado An­nie and I just loved it. I’ve been in­volved with the Spot­light The­atre and Gold Coast Lit­tle The­atre ever since and these days, at 77, I’m with STARS, the Spot­light The­atre Artis­tic Re­vue Se­niors, with some other ma­ture ladies. We travel to nurs­ing homes and re­tire­ment vil­lages with mu­sic, danc­ing, all the cos­tumes and make-up to put on an hour-

“FRANK WAS SIX YEARS OLDER THAN ME — I WASN’T IN­TER­ESTED IN A CAL­LOW YOUTH MY OWN AGE.”

long va­ri­ety show for peo­ple who might not be able to get out to see live shows any more.

We lost our old­est boy in 1994 at the age of 32 and still feel the pain of that ev­ery day.

For 20 years I was a Life­line tele­phone coun­sel­lor. I worked my way up to help­ing with the train­ing of new coun­sel­lors, but I got burnout. I re­mem­ber pick­ing up the phone one day and it was an­other men­tal health caller. I just knew it was time I left.

I had to wait un­til I was 63 un­til I got a grand­child. We have four now and they’re the light of my life. I’m a very hands-on grand­mother. I just love it.

I still go to keep fit classes, as a par­tic­i­pant these days though.

Frank and I have been mem­bers of the Gold Coast Suns since the first year and I keep busy with my Golden Girls.

I still love the Gold Coast. It is the most fab­u­lous place. I think of how bor­ing my life would have been if we didn’t live here. We’ve had a lit­tle cot­tage at Spring­brook for 35 years and we’ve got these beau­ti­ful beaches.

I of­ten just stop and think to my­self: how lucky are we to live in this beau­ti­ful place?

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