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


I’m Mel­bourne born and bred. I grew up in Brighton, the el­dest of four chil­dren and we had a very happy child­hood. al­ways had an in­ter­est in sewing. My mother was a tai­loress and both my grand­moth­ers were sew­ers. When I fin­ished school, I wanted to work in cos­tum­ing and wardrobe in the theatre but my par­ents were very old fash­ioned and didn’t want their daugh­ter go­ing any­where near the theatre, so I went into book­keep­ing and ac­count­ing.

I used to moon­light in the theatre and per­form­ing arts though, help­ing out in cos­tum­ing at night and work­ing as a book­keeper by day.

I met my hus­band when I was work­ing as a temp ac­count­ing ma­chine op­er­a­tor. They were re­ally the fore­run­ners to com­put­ers and I’d go into of­fices as a trained op­er­a­tor to help out when they were busy or to fill in for peo­ple who were away. My hus­band was Ital­ian, from Rome, and I was in his of­fice for about a month. We even­tu­ally got mar­ried and had three chil­dren. We moved to the Gold Coast in 1981. For me, it was about the weather — the Mel­bourne weather was un­bear­able to me. We’d been to the Gold Coast on hol­i­days and we didn’t want the chil­dren to have the closed-in ex­is­tence they were hav­ing in Mel­bourne.

It didn’t take long to as­sim­i­late. I was a stay-at-home mum for a time but when the chil­dren were a lit­tle older, I saw an ad call­ing for vol­un­teers to help out with wardrobe for the first show that was go­ing to be open­ing at the Gold Coast Arts Cen­tre.

I had ex­pe­ri­ence with that and I thought I re­ally should help, so I vol­un­teered. I can’t re­mem­ber the ex­act date but I think the show was Je­sus Christ Su­per­star — or that was one of the first ones. My vol­un­teer­ing led to ca­sual em­ploy­ment in wardrobe at the Arts Cen­tre for the next 13 years.

I sup­pose that led to other vol­un­teer­ing too. I’ve been a vol­un­teer at the Indy, then the Gold Coast 600 since the first event in 1991.

I’d al­ways had a thing for mo­tor­sports. When I was young, friends took me to a mo­tor rac­ing event at Al­bert Park in Mel­bourne. In those days we sat on hay bales and there were no bar­rier fences ... imag­ine that. But I was hooked. I just loved it. I think it was just the com­bi­na­tion of driv­ers and ma­chines at high speed.

When the Indy car rac­ing was com­ing to Surfers Par­adise, I ap­plied to be a vol­un­teer. There was a lot of crit­i­cism of the event at the time but I thought it could only be a good thing for the Gold Coast.

I was a grand­stand usher for the first one, but af­ter that they put me in the me­dia cen­tre and that’s where I’ve been ever since.

It’s al­ways a very ex­cit­ing time and I’ve got to know peo­ple over the years.

I’ve only missed one year — 1995, the year my hus­band passed away.

He came along to the first Indy and he met the se­nior An­dretti from the An­dretti fam­ily. He re­ally en­joyed that.

The Indy re­ally got me into vol­un­teer­ing at the Su­per Cars and other mo­tor­sport events too. I’ve been a vol­un­teer at Bathurst for the past 17 years. I’ve been up to Townsville with the Su­per Cars for eight years, Syd­ney Olympic Park for seven years and I’ve done Dar­win too for five years.

There’s a group of us and when an event comes up, we see who can go and we travel to­gether and share ex­penses.

We’ve had some fun over the years. We stay with a res­i­dent at Bathurst now but we used to camp. Some years we’ve been in tents; oth­ers in car­a­vans.

A cou­ple of years there our tents were shred­ded by ter­ri­ble weather.

Other years I re­mem­ber we’ve wo­ken to ice all over the cars and an­other year I re­mem­ber los­ing a shoe in the mud be­tween the tent and the shower block.

Over the years peo­ple would never have sus­pected I was a petrolhead, es­pe­cially when I was work­ing in the theatre, but I just en­joy the ex­cite­ment of the rac­ing. Some events you get bet­ter views than oth­ers but for me, it’s just the com­bi­na­tion of speed, driver and me­chan­ics. I al­ways look for­ward to the Gold Coast Su­per Cars. I think the whole event is just so good for the Coast.

Vol­un­teer­ing has been a big part of my life. It takes me out of my com­fort zone and I can only en­cour­age oth­ers to do the same.

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