Woman’s Day (Australia)


Long stored away wedding dresses are taking centrestag­e once more


When Tina-maree Zohl opened a jewellery shop in the small town of St George, Queensland, last year, she knew she wanted to display her mum’s wedding dress in the window.

“It was such a beautiful, old-fashioned cut, I thought it would be a great focal point,” she says.

The dress drew so much attention Tina, 51, asked other local women if they’d be keen to display their wedding dresses, too. “I stopped people in the street, asked if they still had their wedding dress, and would they like to have it in my shop window?” she tells Woman’s Day. “Nearly everyone said yes.”

Tina now has a waiting list of women keen to display the gowns from their special days and her shop window has become a local tourist attraction. “I invite the ladies to dress the mannequin with me, so they know their dress is being cared for properly,” she says. “It’s a very sentimenta­l process. For many of them, it’s like seeing an old friend.”

Vickie Lindores married Peter on March 29, 1975, in a very ’70s-style gown with flared sleeves. “I flew down to Brisbane with my sister to buy my dress,” remembers Vickie, 68. “I loved the sheer sleeves that came over my wrists, and the lace around the bodice.

“I wore it with a turban style headpiece and veil. It’s a very simple dress but the satin ribbon detailing makes it really special.”

Vickie’s dress has been out of storage a couple of times since it was originally worn almost 50 years ago. “My daughter tried it on when she was a little girl,” she recalls.

“Then, about 10 years ago a model wore it at a church display. That was very emotional, as it was just a few years after Peter had passed away. Seeing my dress again, and having other people admire it, has been just lovely.”


Jane Kirby married Paul on July 28, 1983, and at first didn’t have much luck when shopping for a suitable dress. “I tried on a few dresses, but white looked

terrible on me,” says Jane. “My mum suggested I try on my Aunty Enid’s coffee-coloured wedding dress. It fitted perfectly. I loved it straight away.”

The dress was first worn by Jane’s aunt Enid in 1955, and had been made specially for her. It had also been worn by Enid’s sister Audrey a few years later. “I loved that it had been in the family for years, that made it really special,” says Jane, 63. “It’s a heavy material with long sleeves. I got married in Toowoomba and it rained – so it was perfect for the day.”

This year, she and Paul will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversar­y. “He’s still got the same cheeky grin he had when we got married,” she laughs.

Sharyn Davidson married Lindsay on January 3, 1976, and knew instantly when she’d found the right dress.

“A girl at college showed me her bridal magazine,” Sharyn, 68, remembers. “I saw a photo of a dress, and thought ‘that’s it!’ I took the picture to a lady in St George who made wedding dresses, and asked her to copy it. She agreed, and gave me a list of materials she needed, including satin ribbon lace for the bodice and cuffs, and chiffon for the underskirt. I bought everything, and she made it exactly as it was in the photo.”


Sharyn has wonderful memories of marrying Lindsay. “I felt really special on the day,” she says. “I don’t usually like being the centre of attention, but I felt so elegant. When I saw the dress in the shop window, I couldn’t believe I was so tiny!”

She adds, “On one of the cuffs, the seamstress had sewn an extra button for good luck. I like to think that’s helped me be blessed with happiness during my married life. I’ve got a lot to be grateful for.”

Tina-maree is delighted the display has brought such joy to the local community and the wedding dress owners.

“People can’t help falling in love with love,” she says.

‘People can’t help falling in love with love’

Lisa and Steve Hicks were volunteers for the Country Fire Authority (CFA) when Australia’s most devastatin­g bushfires swept through vast swathes of Victoria and South Australia. The painful memory of the Ash Wednesday fires hasn’t left them in the 40 years that have passed since then. The married duo were among 25 members of the Narre Warren North Fire Brigade who were called out to help Upper Beaconsfie­ld as fires ravaged the small town on February 16, 1983.

“We were in total shock,” Lisa, 63, tells Woman’s Day. “That day will stick with us forever. The radios just didn’t stop. Everybody was going everywhere because there was no normal pattern to the fire. Nature just took it on her own back to do what she wanted.”


Responsibl­e for 75 deaths and injuring dozens more, the bushfires were one of Australia’s most devastatin­g events.

As more than 100 fires swept across the two states, more than 300,000 hectares was burned and 2003 houses lost. The couple woke to “an extremely hot and dry” morning before the wind picked up and spot fires began to start, spreading quickly to join ahead of the central fire.

‘I thought I was going to die... I was caught out’

At just 23 and 25 and only a few years into volunteeri­ng for the CFA, Lisa and Steve say they were unprepared to handle the intense heat and uncontroll­able winds while having little protective clothing and equipment.

“It was just head down, bum up to start with and then the realisatio­n started to hit, thinking that this is something we’d never seen before,” says Lisa.

It was a close call for Steve, who had to seek refuge as the fire front passed him, after trying to save a group of dogs from the local pound.

“I thought I was going to die,” Steve recalls of the terrifying moment. “There was a lot of long grass exactly behind where I was. I thought I was caught out, but I managed to make my way towards shorter grass and jump the fence.”

The Hicks’ local brigade lost six of its members on that tragic day and this memory has haunted the pair every year as they commemorat­e the event.

“You have your private moments,” Lisa shares.

“[Back then], you just had to move on and keep going and have a drink down at the station and lots of cuddles.”

The couple, who first met through their local brigade, had only been married six months before the tragedy struck.

During the bushfires they went 10 days without seeing each other after they were called to different incidents across the region.

“I knew he was OK because he left his dirty pants on the floor,” Lisa jokes. “We were on different trucks. I could hear him occasional­ly on the radio, but yes, it was a long time.”


It took months for the rebuilding efforts to be completed, with more than 16,000 firefighte­rs deployed across the region to help combat the fires.

Lisa and Steve, who live in Pakenham, Victoria, are still active members within the CFA and have committed their lives to teaching their four children and nine grandchild­ren about fire safety.

“When you’re out on those really bad days now, you think about what happened and try to make sure you’re not in a place or position where it could happen to you,” says Lisa.

The couple will join their brigade this week by returning to the site in Upper Beaconsfie­ld with the families of the fallen firefighte­rs, as they do each year, to hold a private memorial service.

They are determined that their colleagues’ sacrifices will never be forgotten.


My brother died earlier this year in a tragic accident. We miss him dreadfully. I’d like to be sure that he knows how much we love him, and ask if there is anything he wants me to be doing for him. Wendy MITCHELL SAYS I’m so sorry for your loss. Your beautiful brother comes through from Spirit straight away. He is smiling and sending his love to everybody. Your brother is very happy and eager to talk to you. He tells me that he sees the candle you’ve been lighting in memory of him, and he hears you talking to him often. Your brother says he doesn’t want you to worry, he is safe, happy and has found a sense of peace on the other side. He is saying thank you to you for all you’ve done for him and tells me he really appreciate­s everything – you have already done so much. Your brother says he will visit you in a dream and send feathers as a special sign. He says he loves you and he will always be watching over you from Heaven. Q I feel constantly worried about my eldest son. He suffers greatly with mental health issues and has a lot of dark thoughts. I’m doing what I can for him but it’s not helping. Will his life ever improve? Suzy MITCHELL SAYS I feel your son has a beautiful angel protecting and watching over him, but I’m also told he has a lot of extra angels around him at this time. They are sending him healing energy to help lift up his spirit. I’m picking up that your son is an old soul, which is why he sometimes feels emotionall­y overwhelme­d. I strongly sense that you are a wonderful help to him. You must never feel that your efforts are fruitless. With your continued love and support, I do feel he will turn a brighter corner over the course of this year.

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 ?? ?? Tina-maree’s shop is celebratin­g love in the small community.
Tina-maree’s shop is celebratin­g love in the small community.
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Since joining the CFA at ages 15 and 17, Lisa and Steve have loved volunteeri­ng at their local brigade.
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 ?? ?? Thousands of buildings were lost in the tragedy.
Thousands of buildings were lost in the tragedy.
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