02 Aug Beryl’s zest for life
At 94, Beryl’s agility is very impressive and her life motto “Keep moving and volunteer” might have a lot to do with that.
Born in a small hospital under Flemington Bridge in Melbourne, Beryl grew up with 2 siblings, a brother, and a much younger sister. With 12 years difference, Beryl was often charged with babysitting her younger sister, which was quite an inconvenience for a 16-year-old with a zest for life discovering the interesting world of dating, dancing the Jitterbug and American soldiers.
“The American soldiers were known for having silk stockings and chocolate, items that were very scarce during the war, making them even more popular with Australian women.” Beryl said. “This often caused some tension between the American and Aussie soldiers, and I remember hearing the whistles, often indicating the start of a fight, which was pretty exciting.” Beryl loved dancing and often would use the excuse of going to the local scout hall, to go with her girlfriend into the city to bust a move.
Her love for chocolate and men in uniform meant she married an Airforce soldier, Peter, at the age of 21. “He used to say to others, that he won me over with chocolate coated almonds.” Beryl said lovingly.
Beryl also loved working at Melbourne’s Georges, where she started working at age 15. Georges was a busy department store in Collins Street providing exclusive goods and meticulous service. It catered to a more well-heeled clientele, though anyone was welcome, and innovated with extra features such as stylish, minimalist window displays and regular fashion parades showing the latest styles.
“Only the wealthy shopped there,” Beryl said, “If you worked there, you could get a job anywhere.” Beryl worked in the model room, taking tailoring measurements, and she even remembers serving a Governor’s wife named Lady Dugan.
In those days married women didn’t work, so, at 21, Beryl settled to become a housewife and raising their two sons at Moonee Ponds, an inner-city suburb in Melbourne, which kept her busy enough.
Beryl always loved the country and very excitingly made the treechange with her husband to Port Campbell, over 40 years ago, following their son Ray who settled on a dairy farm in Cooriemungle after marrying a local girl from Scotts Creek.
Volunteering at the local Lions Club was a great opportunity for Beryl and Peter to get to know the community. The act of giving and kindness runs through Beryl’s veins as her father cut other people’s lawn and her mum sewed clothes for charities. “I love helping others,” Beryl said. “Volunteering gives you a purpose in life and keeps you going.”
Volunteering continues to keep Beryl active, and she looks forward to her shifts at TOPS (Timboon opshop) and helping at the local church. When she isn’t volunteering, she goes on her daily walks, does some gardening, plays bowls and up until 6 years ago she would go for a swim in Port Campbell Bay. “I find it difficult to sit still and do nothing,” Beryl said.
When she does finally sit still, she loves to read romance novels, sew or do wordsearch puzzles.
Beryl also loves attending the Social Support Group days at Timboon and District Healthcare Service. “My family has moved away from the area, and this gives me an opportunity to socialize and have a nice meal with other community members.” Beryl said. “I’m so excited to finally have our own bus and I love our regular outings.”
Prior to the discovery of an enlarged thyroid gland (Goitre) two years ago, Beryl had no health issues. “I started to suddenly lose weight and decided to go and see my doctor at the Timboon Clinic.” Beryl said. She is now on medication to manage it, and she continues to stay as active as possible.
“I like to take an interest in something new every day and keep moving. It’s no good sitting still.” Beryl said as she jumped out of her chair like a 20-year-old onto her next mission.
Maybe someone can bottle Beryl’s zest for life as we can all use some of it sometimes.