IT WAS a surprise for the ages at this month's Country Women's Association (CWA) meeting, with one very special member unknowingly walking into her 100th birthday party.
Molly O'Neill was provided the full royal treatment on arrival on Friday, with the ladies forming a guard of honour and giving a round of applause.
Ms O'Neill has been a member of the CWA for 65 years, and in that time served as the chapter president, helped bring the first school buses to Bellbrook, set up a children's playground and is also an incredibly talented, self-taught cake designer.
President of the Mid North Coast branch, Delma Robertson, awarded her with a Long Service Badge for her service to the organisation, which after a life-time of volunteering, is well deserved.
"When the Bellbrook CWA first started the only means of transport I had was on a horse, I used to ride to Bellbrook and Carol, my youngest daughter hadn't started school yet, so she used to hop on behind me and come to the meetings as well," Ms O'Neill said.
There was a smile behind every mask in the room, with the ladies following strict safety protocols for a pandemic that has affected the world more than anyone could have seen before. Except for Ms O'Neill, who has lived through the Great Depression and World War II.
"I definitely saw how hard it was for people, but it (The Great Depression) didn't affect us very much, because we were on a farm and more or less self-contained, we had plenty of food, we didn't have any money but didn't have anything to spend it on anyway," Ms O'Neill said.
"War years were pretty tough, it was rather trying really, because I had a brother who went to war, and it was really hard to get information as there was no news and we only had a battery wireless radio, so you only got a little bit of news on the wireless and that was all."
Ms O'Neill shared her thoughts on today's world, "there has been a lot of changes, and as far as I'm concerned the world has gotten a lot more complicated, with all the media, we didn't know much about what went on in the world years ago, but now you know everything".
And she was quite tight lipped on her secret to longevity. "There's nothing special, I just live normally from day to day," she insisted.
But luckily her daughter Trish was happy to expand: "It's down to her incredibly positive attitude to life".
The birthday girl's only wish was for "everything to just go back to normal soon", and that she was excited to open her letter from the Queen and the Australian Governor General.
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