Surrounded by friends and family, Patricia Benedict Durkin (nee Dempsey) celebrated her 100th birthday at the Inverell RSM Club on Sunday, February 11.
The special occasion also doubled as a family reunion of sorts, with Dempsey family members coming together in Inverell from as far afield as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Ballina, Gunnedah, Wagga and Glen Innes.
“We are in the presence of a very special lady as we gather here today to celebrate a very unique milestone,” local Bill Dempsey said.
In a tribute speech to his aunt on behalf of all family members, Mr Dempsey referred to Australian sportsmen Sir Donald Bradman and Walter Lindrum.
"Don Bradman has a test average so close to one hundred it really does not matter and, in a similar vein, officials had to change the rules of billiards, so proficient was Lindrum at scoring one hundred breaks,” he said.
“Neither of these iconic Australians ever scored a century anywhere near as grand as the one our Aunty Pat has managed to rack up!”
Pat was born in Warialda in 1918 and until 1974, spent her earlier years in the town and district.
After a tragic fire in 1965 when she and her husband Patrick lost their house and all their possessions, the couple moved to what is now Arrawarra Headland and established a new life.
Pat lost her husband in 1989 and after living on her own for the next fifteen years, was persuaded at the age of 86 to move into one of the new villas that had been established as part of the Maclean Retirement Village.
She spent six wonderful years in this community until ‘old age’ dictated that she move down to the village itself. In recent years, the loss of some independence has resulted in her move to the high care area where she continues to reside.
In days gone by, Pat Durkin was renowned for her exquisite needlework and crocheting.
She also had a long association with both the CWA and the Red Cross, held a number of positions in both organizations and was presented with a number of awards for her services to both.
Her other main interests have been long walks on the nearby beach, travel, her garden and her church.
Congratulatory messages received on the day came from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the Governor General, the prime minister, the NSW state premier, the Member for New England and Deputy Prime Minister and the NSW State Member for Northern Tablelands.