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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

‘Peas-in-a-pod’ sisters reunited in Bundaberg

Norma Williamson and Audrey ‘Joy’ Huntly have always had a close connection. Now the sisters have been happily reunited and live just a few rooms away from each other at the same Bundaberg aged care community – after more than 70 years living apart.

Joy said she was overjoyed when she found out she would be residing with her sibling at Carinity Kepnock Grove.

“I can’t jump with both feet off the floor now, but I think I’d have jumped over the moon. I saw Norma living here and I wanted to be in the same place, and here we are,” Joy said.

“When Norm and I were young, we stuck together like two peas in a pod. We had a lovely life, a happy life. She looked after me well – and she made sure I knew she was the big sister!”

Joy, aged 90, visited Norma, 92, soon after she moved to Carinity Kepnock Grove early this year. Joy told her family it was time for her to move into aged care and that she wanted to be close to Norma.

Carinity Kepnock Grove’s Customer Service Coordinator, Shantelle Wright, helped facilitate Joy’s move to the popular aged care community. Shantelle admits she got quite emotional while working to reunite the sisters.

“When I did the tour of Kepnock Grove with the family a few months ago, it was so beautiful to see Joy and Norma together,” Shantelle said.

“I shed a few tears on the phone with Joy’s daughter, Sandy, when I was offering her the room. She was just so overjoyed. To know that the sisters would be together again was just amazing.”

Norma said, “I thoroughly enjoy having my sister live with me and I enjoy my time with her. She’s really good company and someone that understands our lives; what it was like and what it is now.”

Norma Williamson and Joy Huntly (at front) with their brothers and sisters in the mid-1930s.

Daughters of grocery store owners, Ogust and Nellie Soblusky, Norma and Joy are the youngest of six children. When Norma was born, the family was living in a tent in her grandparents’ yard in Yandaran, near Bundaberg.

As was the case for many families, life was extremely hard during the Depression years. The Soblusky siblings didn’t receive much schooling and food may have been scarce, but their lives were full of love and laughter.

At the tender ages of 17 and 15, the sisters moved to Gatton where they worked at the local agricultural college.

Joy later volunteered for the Red Cross for over 50 years, travelled overseas, twice drove around Australia by four-wheel drive with her late husband Alan, and danced overseas at square dance conventions.

Norma did domestic work in hotels and worked in Bundaberg Base Hospital laundry. Calling herself a “bushie from way back”, she enjoyed fishing and camping trips with her former husband, Merv, and later her partner of 40 years, Bill.

After many years living in the country, Norma’s love of the outdoors has never left her. She enjoys sitting on her patio at Carinity Kepnock Grove where she can see the gardens, trees and birds.

Between them Norma and Joy have had six children, a dozen grandchildren and 27 great-grandchildren – with another one due in April.

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