• A life dedicated to family — Mrs Wimshurst turns 100

    A life dedicated to family — Mrs Wimshurst turns 100

    On 15 November 2022, Resthaven Port Elliot resident, Mrs Mavis Wimshurst, celebrates her 100th birthday.

    In light of her milestone birthday, she reflects on her life full of hard work, resilience, and unwavering dedication to family.

    Mrs Wimshurst’s dedication to her children stems from her childhood years — she never knew her parents and was raised in an orphanage and foster care homes throughout South Australia.

    ‘I never felt a real sense of belonging throughout my childhood — I didn’t have a family,’ explains Mrs Wimshurst.

    ‘I ran away from my foster carers when I was barely a teenager and lived on a houseboat on the Murray River for a few years.’

    ‘Then, I trained as a seamstress before joining the war effort as a telephonist.’

    ‘During the war, I met my future husband, Harry. He was in the Air Force, stationed in New Guinea, but he’d come home on leave. We were very happy.’

    Woman wearing blue lace dress
    Mrs Wimshurst wearing one of her own creations

    ‘I fell pregnant with our first child, a boy we named James — Jimmy for short!’

    ‘Jimmy was still a young child while Harry was fighting the war in New Guinea. So, I spent time with other women whose husbands were at war or had been killed. Together, we looked after all the children.’

    ‘One of the best moments of my life was when Harry returned from the war. We were finally a family.’

    After the war, Mr Wimshurst worked as a handyman, while Mrs Wimshurst once again took up work as a seamstress. Of course, Mrs Wimshurst made her own wedding dress!

    The family resided in Semaphore, welcoming two more children, sons Ross and Brian.

    Challenging times struck when Jimmy was diagnosed with cerebral palsy.

    ‘The doctors told us that he wouldn’t live beyond seven years old, so I made it my mission to care for Jimmy as long as I could,’ says Mrs Wimshurst.

    ‘Jimmy was bedridden for much of his life, but we made anything work to have the family all together.’

    ‘The boys had such great fun, always getting into mischief. I would hear Jimmy laugh and just know they were up to no good!’

    Young boy sitting in chair
    Jimmy as a young child

    Mrs Wimshurst’s lifelong mission to care for Jimmy led her to work as an educator at the Home for Incurables (later known as the Julia Farr Centre). The now-closed facility was a hospital and care home for people living with disabilities in Fisher Street, Fullarton.

    ‘I worked at the Home for Incurables with many friends, who also had children living with physical or mental disabilities,’ says Mrs Wimshurst.

    ‘Together, we taught the children a range of life skills — how to get dressed, cook and clean, and encourage them to do as much independently as possible.’

    ‘It was such important work at a time when children were labelled “incurable” because of their illness or disability, and then had no one to support them and nowhere to go.’

    ‘Over everything else, I wanted to show these children that they were wanted in the world, and shouldn’t be “pushed out” because they were different.’

    ‘I’m so pleased that children living with disabilities are now given more opportunities.’

    Sadly, Jimmy passed away in the 1980s at age 31.

    Mrs Wimshurst reflects on his life fondly: ‘I am so proud of the life Jimmy was able to lead. The doctors told us seven years, but we had 31 amazing years with him. We were so lucky.’

    Mrs Wimshurst and family celebrating her 100th birthday

    After Mr Wimshurst passed away in the 1990s, Mrs Wimshurst went to live with Brian in Victoria. Later, she moved back to South Australia and lived in Victor Harbor with Ross, and her daughter-in-law, Deb.

    For a while, Mrs Wimshurst received services at home from Resthaven Murray Bridge, Hills & Fleurieu Community Services, before moving to residential care at Resthaven Port Elliot.

    When asked the secret to her long life, Mrs Wimshurst credits her family, ‘I have been blessed with children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren! My family is everything.’

    With more than 100 family and friends to share her milestone birthday, Mrs Wimshurst will have several celebrations over the next few weeks.

    Many happy returns!


    Browse our current Residential Aged Care Home vacancies