Local resident Norma Wilson has celebrated her 100th birthday this week with a celebration organised by her Nepean Legacy and War Widows family.
Wilson was born on February 7, 1924 to Frederick and Cathleen Croft as the third of four daughters. Despite being born in Victoria, Wilson and her family soon relocated to Sydney where she would join the Australian Women’s Army Service as part of the first Signals training Battalion.
Wilson met her husband to be, Ian, whilst at Camp Grovely, and got married after the war on November 21, 1945. The couple lived in Bondi, Randwick, Lithgow, Naremburn and Glen Innes together before finally settling in Emu Plains.
Despite spending much of her retirement and later life, after Ian’s passing, travelling around Australia and New Zealand, Wilson has always considered Penrith her true home, especially since joining the local Legacy and War Widows clubs.
Karen Lane from Nepean Legacy has known Wilson since she became a legatee six years ago, picking her up and dropping her home from their monthly meetings to allow her to continue being involved despite being wheelchair bound.
“Except for going out with her family, that’s the only social outing that she has,” she said.
“She really looks forward to it, and she’s a doll.”
In light of this, Lane said she knew she had to take charge and plan a big birthday bash for Wilson.
“She’s beautiful, and she’s a very kind-hearted lady – never says anything bad about anybody. Even though life is difficult for her, she never complains,” she said.
“We just love her. We call her our matriarch of the group, and I just thought she needed to be honoured.”
As a gift, Karen created a book telling the story of Wilson’s life – one which would stay with her, and one that the rest of the group was able to view.
“The idea of the party was fine, it started with that, and then I thought I’d do her life story,” she said.
“I didn’t want it to be an obituary, so it grew to the book.”
Lane said she was ecstatic with how the party turned out on Tuesday, held at Penrith RSL.
“We’ve got a lovely turnout of people,” she said.
“I’m very thrilled with how it’s come together, and I’m very thrilled with the way the RSL support our Widows Club. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”
Wilson was happy with the celebration as well, admitting it was a total shock to walk into.
“I think it’s absolutely wonderful. It was such a big, big surprise. I knew that we were having our usual meeting, but I didn’t expect this,” she said.
According to Wilson, her secret to reaching this special milestone is eating healthy, and not drinking or smoking.
Wilson said she was grateful to be able to celebrate the big day with her friends and family, of which she has one son, one daughter, two granddaughters and five great grandchildren.
“It’s a wonderful thing, to be able to get to 100,” she said.
Cassidy Pearce is a news and entertainment journalist with The Western Weekender. A graduate of the University of Technology Sydney, she has previously worked with Good Morning Macarthur and joined the Weekender in 2022.