HAPPY DAYS: Joan and Robert 'Paddy' Ellison celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.
HAPPY DAYS: Joan and Robert 'Paddy' Ellison celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. Rob Williams

Super couple marks diamond day

IF ROBERT and Joan Ellison haven't earned a medal for staying faithful for 60 years, then they should get one for raising more than 40 children.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Over the course of their extremely busy lives, this North Booval couple has raised 42 children - three of their own, four adopted and 35 foster children.

Some may find it strange that neither Joan, nor Robert - better known as Paddy - claim to have ever struggled during their years of raising children.

Their positive attitude and appreciation for what they've got speaks volumes of the kind of people they are.

"I just love children," Joan said.

"I was adopted myself, which is why Paddy and I decided to adopt children."

THE CLAN: (from left) Paddy, Malcolm, Quentin, David, Norma, Peter, Gail, Tony and Joan Ellison in the good old days.
THE CLAN: (from left) Paddy, Malcolm, Quentin, David, Norma, Peter, Gail, Tony and Joan Ellison in the good old days.

Paddy, a Belfast boy, paid 95 quid to catch a boat from Northern Ireland to Australia as a 20-year-old in 1952.

He worked in a few butchering jobs around Sydney in the early 50s until joining the RAAF and moving to Amberley base, where he met a young lass named Joan, who worked at the base as a cleric.

"We met on a blind date. Paddy looked very scruffy, but our relationship just grew from there," Joan recalled.

Paddy and Joan on their wedding day.
Paddy and Joan on their wedding day.

Something must have clicked, because within six months, the young pair was married at the Lutwyche Methodist Church - the same place Joan's mother tied the knot years earlier.

The couple brought three boys into the world, before embarking on a mission to adopt.

They found their daughter Gail from Victoria and another two boys and a girl in Brisbane.

From eldest son David to youngest daughter Norma, there is a 17-year age gap.

What's more astonishing is that during these years, the family also took up to three foster children at any one time, totalling 35.

"I am very proud of Joan," Paddy said.

"She ran a tight ship. She could tell you to within a cent where our finances stand."

The couple has lived in Ipswich on and off for decades, but has called North Booval home for the last seven years.

Their children are now scattered all over the world, but most of them came back to help celebrate the couple's 60th anniversary at Ipswich RSL Services Club on April 2.

The day was a dual celebration for Paddy's 84th birthday, with the actual anniversary date on March 31.


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