I was the youngest of 17 grandchildren and I was named after my mother and my paternal grandmother. It was my Auntie Jean who told my mother about the Tregurthas and said that I had the look of them. I was the only one in the family to have that look (I presume bone structure etc) and so she gave me her mother’s brooch with a fancy T on it.
I was born at the Royal Women’s Hospital on the 27th October 1946. At the ripe age of 6 hours I almost bled to death and had almost a total transfusion. Imagine my mother’s horror when she finally recovered from the birth to find her daughter with a massive bandage on her ankle. My birth almost killed my mum and she and dad were told no more children; hence I am an only child.
I grew up in Preston, Victoria (Australia) living at 22 South St, which looks nothing like where I lived. My earliest memory is moving from 20 to 22 South St through the connecting fence when I was 3. I attended the Preston South Primary school. As my birthday was in October I was 5 when I went to school starting at Prep. I remained in prep for one and a half days and was moved up to grade one so I was always the youngest in the class. As a solitary child I was shy and didn’t make lots of friends. Although I had several cousins I was the youngest and they had other interests than playing with a little girl.
At the age of 8 we moved to my maternal grandmother’s house and I discovered cousins younger than myself. For a period of time we lived there; three families in a small two bedroom home made up of timber, billy cans and old building materials. You may wonder but it was true. The back of the house was filled in with split open large tins, very cold in winter and boiling in summer. This was 78 Wilcox St Preston. I just googled it and see that it sure has been cleaned up. The tree is there but there was no garden and there were sheds built between the outside toilet and the house, very rickety structures which would not have passed council approval. Oh goodness that does bring back memories. As you can imagine it was crowded so tension mounted and we then moved to my father’s family home at the corner of Kemp and High St Croxton, above what was a china shop and we, my mum, dad, and me, had the front room above the shop. Grandpa Stephens and his second wife Ethel my uncle Teddy lived there. I travelled from there to my school and sometimes when my dad was driving his tram (what was called a scrubber tram) my might get a lift. Mind you this was not really allowed as this tram did not take passengers.
1957 February (approximately) my family was granted a Commission Flat in the annex to the Olympic Village in Heidelberg and we moved there. I then finished off at Preston South Primary and went to Heidelberg Girls High School in 1958. I was in the first 5th form, or as we call it now year 11, with 5 other girls . Year 12 did not go ahead here so I went to Canterbury Girls High school for Year 12, meeting there a lifelong girlfriend.
I toyed with the idea of becoming a teacher even being granted a bursary to stay at school and pay school fees for the matriculation year because I was too young to attend that college. However, I decided not to take it and made my mother quite upset about that as we were actually quite poor living on her widow’s pension from the government.
Going back a step my dad passed away when I was 1 month over 15 years. I have vivid memories of those three days. He took a heart attack on the way home from work and took many more over the next three days passing on the Friday. It was the first time I remember just knowing he was not coming home. We had no money and no savings. I was always either 1st or 2nd in my grades throughout school so the school came together and granted me scholarships for the 5th form to help mum and me at this time. This was also when I became aware that I would have to help my mum in many ways. In some ways this period was like a dream that sooner or later everything would be ok.
My mother was an incredible saver and she always managed to have some small savings and somehow after my dad passed, we ended up with a phone and I ended up with a horse. It was wonderful. I still don’t know how she did it. Sadly, after several years I could not afford to keep him so I had to sell him. I am so happy that I got to own him even for a short while. Just before my daughter was born I did get another horse but also had to let him go. I have always loved animals and was always bringing home what I thought were strays. My mum would then have to find out where they belonged much to my chagrin.
I graduated from Canterbury Girls and then went to a private college to study accounting. I remember meeting a young lady going as I was entering the college and she asked if I was registering. I replied yes and she then said it was great because there were only 120 women accountants in Australia. It was a man’s world I was entering and in a class of 120 students there were only three of us girls. I qualified at age 24.
My first job was with a chartered accountant in south Yarra at the ripe age of 21. I loved the work but got very sick of the old school tie syndrome and the fact that I ‘was very well paid for a female’, at a place where there were no chances of any advancement. I met a man here who I grew to think of as my second dad and his wife as my second mum. I talked him into going into business for ourselves and eventually he agreed when he was retrenched from his position at age of 62. We set up our accountancy business in 1977 and started from scratch slowly building up clients. In 1986 I purchased the business from him and started working from home. I have memories of little old ladies telling me that they thought the secretary (me) knew more than the boss. I finally retired just before Covid hit. I still dabble and help out my lovely young lady that bought it from me. In some ways I did become a teacher.
I married at 22 and separated at 27 divorcing when I was 32. My beautiful daughter was born just after I turned 28 and is the light of my life. She is also an only child. I was a single parent at a time when there was no government help and so my mum helped out. We lived together, and together we managed to create a comfortable life. The highlight was when we bought our home and mum finally had a home she could call her own in her own name.
I became my mother’s carer for a long time until at the age of 97 she went into high care, passing at 98.5 years of age in 2013.
Working from home was great and as I have had cats from the time I married cats were always around. Clients used to comment on them as they sat on the desk and protected me. I still have two cats and one rather naughty Italian greyhound who caused the arm injury.
My daughter settled in England for a period of time and did her PhD at Surrey Uni. I managed to travel over several times finally getting to do several of the green paths of England. For some reason I have always travelled over there and I love wandering along those green paths. Strangely I haven’t been to Cornwall. Had some fantastic holidays with my daughter whilst she was over there.
Highlights of my life – my daughter and her son – the time spent with my mum, just the two of us, and the amazing situation we managed to get for ourselves – my friends who have stood by me when I have been down – the fact that I became an accountant when it was totally male dominated and that I built up a substantial accounting practice pretty much on my own and being able to provide well for my mum and daughter as I did so.
Low of my life – my dad passing – the marriage breakup.
Finally, I live quietly by myself with my two cats and dog and hopefully eventually I might be able to travel again when the world stops being crazy. I have also become addicted to dolls house miniatures and the building and collection of same. It is a great hobby and totally absorbs me to the extent that I have a room set aside.
I have been lucky with my life having so many wonderful people in it.
Thank you for reading Anne’s amazing story.