• From Sri Lanka to Australia, 100-year-old Terry shares her story

    From Sri Lanka to Australia, 100-year-old Terry shares her story

    On 1 February, Mrs Therese ‘Terry’ Collette celebrated her 100th birthday with family in her home at Resthaven Aberfoyle Park.

    Mrs Collette, seated centre, with her family on either side. There is a colourful bunch of flowers on the timber table in front of them
    Mrs Terry Collette with her family

    Growing up in Colombo, Sri Lanka, known then as Ceylon, Terry started life differently from the average child.

    ‘My father worked as a doctor, and like most households, we had a live-in servant who assisted my mum with the cooking and cleaning.’

    ‘My mum died when I was quite young, but I do look on my childhood as a happy time.’

    Terry completed her schooling at the equivalent of grade 11, soon starting her secretarial course in typing.

    ‘I quite enjoyed typing, but I never pursued it, as I met my husband, Bruce, around this time.’

    Bruce was an engineer, and an accomplished tennis player.

    ‘The first time I saw him, he was playing a match! We got to chatting and he asked me to the dance.’

    Terry and her husband both thoroughly enjoyed dancing and found their lifelong dance partner that night.

    ‘We carried on dancing most weekends throughout our lives together. There are many happy memories there.’

    After almost a year of dating, the couple married at St Peters Church, Colombo, on 16 May 1942.

    Soon, they welcomed three children to their family, two boys, and one girl.

    In 1958, they made a decision that would change their lives forever.

    ‘Life had changed quite dramatically in Sri Lanka, and during this time, we were dealing with a lot of unrest.’

    ‘Bruce and I decided to move the family to Australia to give the children the best opportunities in life.’

    ‘It was tough to get used to a new way of living, the culture shock and all, but it was the best decision we could have made.’

    Throughout Terry’s life, she travelled the world, kept active and social, and picked up a few creative hobbies along the way.

    When asked about her secret to longevity, she replied, ‘Live a simple life and keep active. Family is everything.’

    Wise words indeed. Happiest of returns, Mrs Collette.