“It was a great life. It stood me in good stead. ” – With these words Vern Williams sums up his years at Burwood Boys’ Home in the 1940s – sentiments that may surprise some used to hearing horror stories of institutional life.
The Victorian Senior of the Year Awards recognises older Victorians, who volunteer to assist, support and encourage others in their communities. Burwood’s own Cheryl Webster does us all proud as one of this year’s recipients. Long-time Manager of Burwood Neighbourhood House and a Breast Cancer survivor herself, Cheryl has first-hand knowledge and understanding of the plight of those she helps.
EVA de Jong-Duldig is a person of diverging interests, many of which were inherited from her parents. Eva’s father Karl was an eminent sculptor as well as a sportsman, and from him she took his sporting prowess (he played international soccer for Hakoah Wien in the 1920s and was later one of Austria’s top tennis players). Her mother Slawa, who invented the modern foldable umbrella in 1929, often formed a bedrock in the family’s sometimes fraught journey from Vienna to Australia.
Pat Palmer rises to greet me as I enter her comfortable, spacious room at Camberwell Green. The dresser is crowded with family photos and, as she tells me, despite her 93 years and a recent stroke she has no intention of shuffling off this mortal coil yet; she has too much still to experience.