IN PICTURES: Centenarians get together in Brisbane

IN PICTURES: Bolton Clarke Centenarians Club celebrate 100 years milestones

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900 years of stories: Centenarians swap yarns over a cuppa


When you have more than 900 years of stories to share, morning tea can be quite an event.

That’s what nine centenarians discovered when they got together over a cuppa in Brisbane recently.

They were all attendees at a special morning morning tea in Brisbane City Hall held by aged care provider Bolton Clarke, with some coming from as far away as the Gold Coast to be part of the action.

Special guests included returning club members Elma Tadman, 105, from Bolton Clarke’s Treetops residential aged care community at New Farm and Thelma Sprott, 102, from Inverpine residential aged care community at Murrumba Downs.

Born in 1916 in Canungra Thelma attended Sherwood Primary and Brisbane State High and participated in the sports of hurdling and netball.  

In 1930 Thelma got a job at Morrows Biscuits... she says her claim to fame was hand-icing Iced Vovo biscuits.

In 1930 Thelma got a job at Morrows Biscuits working there for 10 years until she was married. She says her claim to fame was hand-icing Iced Vovo biscuits. 

Thelma remembers the depression years when her mum would make briefs (or “bloomers” as they were called then) from Sea Foam Flour bags of white calico.  She said the Sea Foam print would not always wash out and you could have it written across your bottom.  

Thelma meet her husband Eric Sprott when her older sister married Eric’s brother. She is a Life Member of Pine Rivers Rowing Club and the clubhouse was recently  named in her honour. 

Elma Tadman was born in 1913, and grew up as one of 12 children.

When she was younger she said she was too busy to get married, but she met her husband at Mt Isa and married at 38. She later moved to South Australia and Darwin before retiring to the Sunshine Coast. 

An Airforce Veteran and avid golfer, Elma played alongside the likes of Greg Norman’s late mother. 

Eileen “Mackie” Sutton, who celebrated her 103rd  birthday a few days after the event, also attended.

Born in 1915, Eileen was stationed at the Fleet Air Arm base in the UK with her husband during World War II. They later moved to Guernsey, in the Channel Islands, before emigrating to Australia in 1950.

Having always loved music Eileen returned to her studies at age 50 and achieved a music teaching diploma.

She worked at the Pelaco factory making shirts, and at the Golden Circle cannery, before taking an aged care role.

Having always loved music she returned to her studies at age 50 and achieved a music teaching diploma. A gifted pianist, at 80 she travelled to a music conference in Ireland.  

Bolton Clarke Chairman Pat McIntosh and Brisbane City Council Chairman of Council, Councillor Angela Owen, welcomed new members and presented them with a book of historic images of Brisbane and surrounding areas.

“Bolton Clarke launched the Centenarian Club last year to create new opportunities to honour and record the lives of our clients and residents, build their relationships with their communities and each other and reinforce their sense of identity and continuation of their story,” Mr McIntosh said.

“We’ve been pleased this year to welcome more than 20 new centenarians among our south-east Queensland clients and residents, and many more across Australia.

“It is our privilege to support these people, whether they are living at home or in our residential or retirement communities.”

Other members of the 100 Club

Art McClure, Caboolture: Rotary, Meals on Wheels, Probus and Caboolture RSL are just some of the organisations Art has contributed to over a century of service. Born in 1918, Art grew up in Caboolture and remembers riding his horse to school in the early days of the township. 

Art enlisted in the Army at 21 and served as a topographical surveyor from 1940-45 in Darwin, Borneo and Papua New Guinea. On his return home he settled down as a banana grower on his farm on the Maleny range.

Art always loved agriculture and won multiple awards during his time on the land. He served as a Fruit Steward for both the Caboolture Show Society and the Royal National Show, earned Rotary recognition as a Paul Harris Fellow and remains closely linked with Caboolture Meals on Wheels, where he was President for eight years. 

Hazel Marsh, Ashgrove: Born in 1918, Hazel lived at Newmarket with her brothers, attending Newmarket State School before working as a dressmaker in the city, and making all her own ball dresses for her busy dance schedule. During World War II she was assigned to Archerfield Aerodrome to help repair Australian and American planes that had been damaged in combat. It was there she met her husband Edgar and they married in 1945. 

They started their family at Ashgrove and Edgar built a caravan which they towed across the Nullarbor plain in 1968 to Perth. After Edgar’s retirement they converted a Nissan van and travelled around Australia and the world. Hazel retains a keen interest in gardening, especially orchids, and still knits beanies for the Mission to Seafarers through her local church. 

Russell “Rusty” McWilliam, Thornlands: Born in 1918, as a young man Rusty played rugby league and cricket. He joined the AIF in World War II and was in the first convoy to leave Australia for the Middle East, serving as a signaller in the 2nd  and 4th  Battalions and seeing action in Libya, Greece and Crete. When he was made unfit for further frontline service he joined the RAAF and trained as a navigator in Canada. 

After leaving active service, Rusty managed department stores before training as a horticulturist and opening his own business in Sydney. He is a keen follower of rugby league, specifically the Broncos.

Vera Brown, Pinjarra Hills: Vera, known as Billie, was born at New Farm, Brisbane in 1918. Vera later lived at Lutwyche and Indooroopilly and has always been active enjoying aerobics, square dancing and tennis. She has two sons and says she still manages to beat them at Scrabble. 

Bert Drury, Currumbin Waters: Bert is a new club member who was born in 1918 and grew up at Lithgow, NSW, where his favourite pastimes included fishing, bee-keeping, shooting, hockey and motorbike riding. In fact, it was a motorbike that brought him and his late wife Jean together, a marriage he describes as the best thing he ever did. He celebrated his 100th birthday by climbing on a bike. 

Ivy Evans, Waterford:  Ivy is a new club member who was born in 1918. She went to work at a young age and held jobs including working in an egg shop, at a canning company and as a maid for a doctor.  

During World War II she joined Navy, Army and Airforce Institute to work in the canteen providing food for the servicemen, and it was there she met her husband David Evans, who was an Army Sergeant. In retirement she took up travelling, dancing and lawn bowls.

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