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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Parliament celebrates return of 100+ Club members

Members of the 100+ Club – made up of 110 centenarians – gathered at Queensland Parliament today for a celebration of legacy, longevity and living well. 

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk welcomed the return of Queensland centenarians to State Parliament, after a three-year interruption due to COVID-19.

“The 100+ Club is a celebration of ageing well and enjoying life to the fullest,” the Premier said.

“Queensland’s centenarians are a living connection to our state’s incredible history.

“Of the more than 880,000 seniors in our state, they have experienced the most significant changes over the last century – across politics, education, science, medicine and technology.”

This year, another 28 members were welcomed into the exclusive 100+ Club.

“We were pleased to welcome many of them to State Parliament today, to hear their stories and to honour their outstanding – and longstanding – contribution to our State,” the Premier said.

The oldest Queenslander in the 100+ Club is Eileen Tilley – who celebrated her 106th birthday in August this year. Ms Tilley currently lives in an aged care home in Ipswich, sharing the facility with her daughter Rhonda. 

Centenarian Gloria Benwell (Photo: Carinity).

Among the newest members of the Club are Brisbane woman, Mary Ryan, Brisbane man David Edgar, and Bundaberg woman, Gloria Benwell.

Ms Ryan was born and raised in Annerley and started her professional career during the Second World War, working in Censorship and Telegraph with the Postmaster-General.

A believer in the value of volunteering, Ms Ryan has been an active supporter of charities over many decades – making clothes and dolls for underprivileged children abroad, and serving in school tuckshops, as well as the women’s group at her local church. 

Carinity Hilltop resident, David Edgar, with his son, Gary Edgar (Photo: Carinity).

Growing up in Spring Hill in the 1920s and 30s, Mr Edgar was an active sportsman before joining the Royal Australian Navy in 1941.

Through the Second World War, Mr Edgar served aboard several naval ships – sailing in waters off Australia, Papua New Guinea and Japan. After the end of the war, he returned home to marry the love of his life, Peggy – with whom he spent almost 70 years.

Before coming to Bundaberg, Ms Benwell’s extraordinary life took her from Dunedin, New Zealand, to a boarding house on the outskirts of Melbourne, to California – where she lived with her late-husband after the Second World War.

While in the United States, Ms Benwell worked as a movie stuntwoman – including as a stand-in for American actress Barbara Stanwyck – before an accident forced her retirement from that work. Upon her return to Australia, she enjoyed many different careers – including work as a Magistrate, a dog groomer and a trainer of racehorses.  

“While Gloria has traded daring stunts for a quieter life these days, she still enjoys a glass of good wine and the occasional spot of beauty therapy,” Premier Palaszczuk said.

“Let’s hope those are the secrets to a long and fabulous life!”

The 100+ Club – organised by the Queensland Community Care Network – will celebrate a milestone of its own next year – 30 Years of engaging and connecting Queensland centenarians.

Suzanne Walker from the Queensland Community Care Network said it has been a delight to watch the 100+ Club grow over the years.

“Through the 100+ Club, we’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing characters and hear some truly inspiring stories of lives well lived,” Mrs Walker said.

“Next year our club will turn 30, and as we reflect on the individuals that make up the 100+ Club – from war veterans to pioneers and Hollywood personalities – we can’t help but wonder what the next few years will bring, and who else we will get to meet.

“Our club is a great way for centenarians in the community to stay in touch, and members always look forward to events like the Christmas Luncheon at Parliament – catching up with old friends, and making some new ones, too. It is a beautiful thing to be a part of!”

For more information on the 100+ Club, please visit http://www.100plusclub.com.au/

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