Medal given to OAM recipient
IF there is one thing Lorna Rickert has never had time for it is ageing.
The simple truth is this age-defying 95-year-old Nobby woman has always had so much to do, there hasn't been the opportunity to sit back and become ‘old'.
“I've kept busy, always had lots of interests,” Mrs Rickert said.
“I honestly don't know what it is to be bored.”
It is in honour of those interests and for her enduring commitment to the community that Mrs Rickert is being awarded an Order of Australia medal today.
Now recognised among our nation's most extraordinary citizens, this Central Downs great-grandmother received the prestigious honour for her “service to the Nobby community and in particular to the Sister Kenny Memorial Fund”.
It is the latter which this gentle country woman personally lists as one of her life's greatest successes.
She was one of the founding members of a group that worked tirelessly through 1989 to start the Sister Kenny Memorial Fund as a tribute to the local nurse, who developed a successful treatment for poliomyelitis patients.
By 1997 the fund's committed members – with the support of local council – were able to open the Sister Kenny Memorial Building with its extensive display of memorabilia from her nursing career and early life in Nobby.
“When the building opened in October 1997 it was a great day; we never had a cent left in the bank, but we had done it,” Mrs Rickert said.
“Sister Kenny deserved the recognition and it was due.
“We have had many, many people come through the building in the past 14 years with stories of how her treatment saved their lives.”
Today Mrs Rickert is still secretary of the Sister Kenny Memorial Committee, a job she juggles with an impressive array of other commitments.
She has been a member of the Nobby branch of the Queensland Country Women's Association for 80 years.
“When my mother was a young woman the CWA was really one of the only social outings,” Mrs Rickert said.
“My mother was a foundation member and she signed me in as an associate member when I was 15.”
She remains an active member of the organisation to this day: in fact just hours before our interview she had spent the morning with her CWA cohorts catering for a fundraising luncheon.
While many of her generation may have been content to master crochet – and she admits to being a more than adequate seamstress – Mrs Rickert has always been keen to learn more.
A self-taught artist, she has painted since childhood and in recent years mastered woodcarving.
SHE has also honed her skills as a musical performer.
“My father had a lovely voice and after we finished our homework we always had a sing around the piano,” she said. “It was a very special time.”
As a young girl she remembers her father performing around the neighbourhood. Later, she too would follow in his footsteps.
She has been a regular performer at the Clifton Nursing Home as well as at annual events in the region.
She admits “every now and again” her singing voice “catches a little” an irritating side effect of being a little older.
Yet it didn't stop her singing her trademark tune “Danny Boy” at a special family birthday celebration for her at Nobby's renowned Rudd's Pub in March.
Speaking with the Daily News this stylishly dressed genteel woman could pass for thirty years younger.
“It's not possible dear,” she said. “Remember, I have a 70-year-old son.”
And it is her three sons and daughter, along with her nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, that truly make her life worth living.
Sadly, she explains the love of her life Clarence – the handsome boy next door she was married to for 70 years – died six years ago.
“I still think he is going to be home when I get there; I still feel him beside me each day,” she said.
There were no secrets to the couple's successful romantic union, she explained.
Rather, making it work was a case of tolerance, loving one another and “getting over” life's little irritations, she said.
These days she juggles her busy schedule with family time.
Last month she was helping paint the School of Arts Hall ahead of the Nobby Presbyterian Church's Centenary.
“I painted the lower parts,” she said. “I'm not up to getting on ladders anymore, but I am still capable of lending a hand.
“And it looked lovely when we finished.”
She also makes time for a weekly game of golf at the Clifton course, where she has been a member since 1973.
“I love Nobby and I have lived here all my life, but I have been other places, I've travelled overseas.
“Yet after a while I get homesick and I am always pleased to come back. It's home.”