To help celebrate Queensland Seniors Week on 18–26 August, we caught up with some local senior citizens whose contributions to our community deserve our thanks.
Jean Paterson joined the Girl Guides as a young lass in England and has never looked back.
“It’s been my life since 1956,” Jean says. “I joined as a girl and then carried on as a junior leader then leader.”
The British Womens’ Royal Army Corps (attached to Artillery) was also a natural fit for Jean.
“I can’t say what I did because it was in the defence of the country but I really enjoyed my time with the Army,” Jean says. “I’m an organised person, so it suited me down to the ground, and my last posting was to Australia.”
It was in South Australia Jean met her husband-to-be, who was in the Royal Australian Air Force.
“I’m on my own now but we were married for 33 years,” Jean says. “We were posted every two years or so and one was an exchange to Las Vegas, which was very exciting,” Jeans says.
“It’s just as well the children were only tiny then!”
Both Jean’s daughter Fiona and son Douglas live in Townsville and she now has five grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
When Jean was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for her services to youth through the Girl Guides, her family couldn’t have been more proud.
“I was thrilled to be nominated,” Jean says, adding that it was hard to keep it a secret until the ceremony.
Her OAM is among Jean’s most prized possessions, which also include a collection of over 300 spoons.
“Mother was a spoon collector and, when I travelled, I’d send her spoons from the different places I’d been,” Jean says. “You can pretty much trace my life through the spoons.”
Naturally, Jean’s favourite spoons are the four she collected from each of the Girl Guide International Headquarters.
“My grandmother collected spoons too, so it runs in the family,” Jean says. “Maybe one of the grandchildren will carry on the tradition…”