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Kirami centenarian celebrates milestone with family


Kirami resident Thelma Brown recently celebrated her centenarian birthday with close family members and staff

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A Kirami resident recently celebrated her centenarian birthday with close family members and staff.  

Thelma was born on Mother’s Day on 14 May, 1922 at her home in Railway Street, Guildford NSW to parents Russell and Nellie Rigelsford. 

Her dad was a carpenter and builder and her mother was a homemaker. She was the eldest of a family of seven, with four brothers and two sisters. 

A short time later, her family moved to 60 Belmont Street, Merrylands.  

Thelma described it as a small town in the country with dirt roads, one pub, three churches, a butcher’s shop, a corner store, and two petrol stations. She lived in a weatherboard house on a double block of land, with a huge garden of fruit trees, veggie patches and a chook house.  

The home consisted of three bedrooms, a dining room, kitchen, lounge, and an inside bathroom. Outside was the laundry and the “outhouse”.  

Thelma remembers fondly her family dining room where they kept the piano.  

Both parents played the piano, and she remembers singing along as they played. Her not-so-fond memories are of having to walk through the fernery at night-time to get to the toilet.  

As a child, Thelma’s favourite activities were to play marbles and to ride the boys’ scooter.  

She had a doll that she treasured, but gave it away when her sister Iris was born, as she felt she didn’t need a doll anymore now she had Iris! Thelma enjoyed school, but had to leave early to go to work at 14 years old. Thelma worked as a bookbinder at Waite and Bull printers in Sydney, travelling by train daily, 90 minutes each way. During World War II she continued to work as normal, and every Friday night she went to David Jones and joined with other young people making mosquito nets for the boys in the war. 

At 20 years old she met and fell in love with Harry Brown. They were married on 17 March 1944 at the Guildford Methodist church. They had two children, a girl Coralie and a boy Phillip. She now has six grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.  

There have always been loads of cupboards and tables full of craft supplies, dried leaves and flowers, shells, stones, and rock collections, from exploring the beach and the bush!  

Thelma’s favourite hobbies were doing bark and shell pictures, painting and pencil sketching. She loved making her own personalised gift cards for family and friends. She also had a large camera with fancy lenses and was a keen photographer. Thelma enjoyed knitting and crocheting and for several years sold her own mohair wool shawls, which she crocheted after spinning the wool on her own spinning wheel. 

Thelma and Harry had celebrated 63 years of marriage when he passed away at 87 years old in 2007.  

Happy 100th birthday, Thelma.  

First published on the Anglicare Southern Queensland website on 14 June 2022.

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