Centenarians celebrate at Tondoon Gardens
KEEP busy or you'll go rusty.
That's the advice from Gladstone's two newest centenarians, who were recognised at a tree-planting ceremony on Thursday at Tondoon Botanic Gardens.
Pat Kelly and Gwen Coyle said they were shocked and honoured that so many turned out to celebrate their lives, including a media contingent to rival a prime minister's visit.
The pair had never met, but said it was a special occasion to share.
"I think it's a wonderful thing that's happening," said Gwen, who turns 100 on Sunday.
"To reach this age is wonderful anyway but to have all of these people honouring it is great.
"I'm very happy."
Pat also thanked those who turned out.
"I think it's a lovely thought," she said.
"It's something I would never have expected."
The ceremony, held by Gladstone Regional Council, saw trees planted in honour of the centenarians, along with the unveiling of plaques.
Gwen said it was a special touch that the event coincided with International Women's Day.
"I never thought about it because I haven't joined a lot of women's clubs or anything like that," she said.
"I've been too busy doing the other things like dancing and getting on committees of things.
"I worked 12 years with the A-Z disability workshop where we have mentally handicapped people and physically handicapped as well.
"I did as much as I possibly could, I filled in as much of my time."
The day was an opportunity for the ladies to reflect on times gone by, as well as life's next stage.
Both live independently and enjoy a range of daily activities.
Today is a different world to the early 1900s.
Pat reflected on one of the biggest challenges she's faced in her 100 years.
"I lived in North Queensland for many years and I was in the evacuation of North Queensland," she said.
"It wasn't compulsory but a policeman and army man came around and visited all pregnant women (encouraging them) to leave the area in North Queensland when the Japanese were coming.
"I left there and I came down from North Queensland in a train full of pregnant women."
Mayor Matt Burnett said the day was important to the whole community.
"It's all about recognising and acknowledging the seniors who have put in the effort over the years and have been involved in our district for so long," he said.
"It's important to recognise the locals who have paved the way for what is now the future.
"A hundred years is a huge milestone and this is a great way to celebrate."
The pair enjoyed a morning tea at the ceremony, where gifts from the council were also presented. Both Gwen and Pat had one vital piece of advice for a happy life.
"Live a good life and enjoy yourself because you're only young once," Pat said.
"Enjoy everything you do and do a lot that you can for other people," Gwen said.
DID YOU KNOW?
Since the year 2000, Gladstone has honoured 30 centenarians. Twenty-eight plaques dedicated to those residents are on display at the Tondoon Botanic gardens, while two others are elsewhere around the region. Out of the 30 centenarians only 10 are men while 20 are women.