This week, we meet Glades Bay Gardens resident Liz Matthews to learn more about her life story from nurse to nanny and how she came to Glades Bay Gardens.
“I always wanted to be a nanny. I got to be a nanny.” – Liz Matthews
Liz grew up in Woolbrook, Tamworth, recalling that she had animals around her for as long as she could remember.
Her Dad decided to get a horse for Liz and Jacquie, her younger sister. Liz named her pony Patches- “of course, because she had patches on her!”
When Liz was around 12 years old, she loved attending Pony Camp. She remembers sharing Patches with her sister, when poor Jacquie’s horse Bluebell got sick and couldn’t go to the competitions. In 1960, Liz was awarded a medal for the best child, and most well-mannered child. Liz laughs when telling this part of the story, because she feels this award may not have truly reflected what she was actually like.
Liz especially loved her cow, Daisy. Daisy used to wait at the gate for Liz when she came back from school. Daisy loved cuddles. Liz could put her arm right around the cow and would give Daisy a big hug. Penny the goat, on the other hand, used to eat all the clothes off the washing line!
This is a photo of Liz with her cow Daisy.
Liz enjoyed being a part of The Rangers, which was like girl guides. She had a uniform and would go to the Rangers to play games, eat evening meals and make friends. In 1961 she was awarded a certificate of merit for her tennis.
She remembers life on the farm with her father starting at 5 am every morning to milk the cows, and after breakfast, continuing the day feeding and looking after the sheep and cattle. Liz enjoyed helping with these tasks and would even drive the tractor. She was sad when her father became unwell because he worked so hard.
Liz faced a few challenges, one being with her health; she got measles, broke her leg once, and experienced bullying because of a speech impediment. However, she had good friends and enjoyed spending time with them when she could. She went to boarding school in Tamworth, where she received help from a specialist with her speech.
It was clear from a young age that Liz enjoyed babysitting, with an early memory of pushing baby Jacquie around in the pram. Her first job was at Far West as a nanny, caring for homeless children and little ones left by their parents.
Liz recalls the never-to-be-forgotten night in the middle of winter when she heard a noise. She told the Sister that she could hear crying, and they ventured outside to explore.
There was plenty of light even though it was dark that night. Liz knew they were safe, and cameras were around the place. She felt very protected. They heard the cry of a baby, and sure enough, at the front gate they found a tiny infant that looked about 5-6 weeks old, left on the ground wearing just a nappy and nothing else. Liz remembers how cold the baby felt when they picked her up. After a warm bath and a good feed, Liz and the Sister found some clothes for the baby and put her to bed. The hungry little girl slept well that night, and Liz watched her grow and thrive over the next two and a half years she worked at Far West.
In 1970 Liz went to Warrungah, a hospital home for children in Camperdown. She was an assistant nurse’s aide and also worked in the dining room, serving food. “There was chop and change between the kids, the staff, and the dining” says Liz, but there were no night shifts which suited her. After this, she went to work in Western Australia for around 2 years. Liz recalls the beautiful orchids her friends sent when she planned on returning to visit her father in Sydney. Orchids happened to be her father’s favorite flower.
On 8th December 1979 at Neutral Bay, Liz married George at the Kirribilly Club. She says it was such a special day for her and her bouquet was orchids. She remembers nearly falling in her long dress and a gorgeous long veil!
This is Liz with George her husband.
Here is Liz with her Mum and Dad on her wedding day.
Then, Liz says, “All of a sudden, I fell pregnant.” Liz has a beautiful daughter and grandchildren who she loves. Liz attended River City Church, where there are lots of people she cares about.
Being a Nanny was Liz’s favorite, longest, and most meaningful job. She made such strong connections that some of the children she looked after keep in contact with her to this day, and on her 50th birthday, she celebrated with the family she had nannied. They presented her with a generous gift that meant a lot to her. When it comes to birthday celebrations, Liz keeps her family and friends close.
Her big heart for people has always been there.
Liz is now at home with Twilight, living in Glades Bay Gardens. She loves chatting to staff and visitors, visiting family and close friends and being a part of the group who makes new residents welcome at Glades Bay Gardens. She fills her day with meaningful activites, participating in the ‘Resparke’ music program, art therapy, silent disco, bowls, golf, and flower making. Liz especially looks forward to her jewel art on Wednesdays.
Liz says, “I just enjoy life.”
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us Liz!