100 years of adventure for Merle Phillipps

SPARKLING: Merle Phillipps, centre, celebrates her 100th birthday with daughter Jenny Wilkinson and son Tony Phillipps. Picture: Jonathan CarrollWhat do you get a 100-year-old who wanted to skydive for their 90thbirthday? A helicopter joy flight of course.

This is whatMerlePhillipps will do to celebrateher birthday after she turns 100 on Friday.

Shecame to Maitland 13 years ago but was born in a place called Thornton, Queensland.

After she finished school Mrs Phillipps worked as a teacher’s aide with her father but whenWorld War II broke out she enlisted as a nurse.

She was planning to head overseas to help but family circumstances meant that she stayed in Queensland to help the troops coming back from Papau New Guinea.

Mrs Phillipps trained in blood work and worked alongside Lieutenant-ColonelVivian Bullwinkel.

Towards the end of the war she metMax Phillipps, who she was married to for 31 years before he died in 1980.

After the war Mr Phillipps gained employment with ASIO which took the pair on a lot of adventures.

They lived inUnited Kingdom for several years, where Mrs Phillipps gave birth to their daughter Jenny.

While in the UK, Mrs Phillips met the Queen at one of her garden parties at Buckingham Palace.

Mrs Phillipps’ son Tony also recalledRussian spies and communists being in the house while he and his sister were growing up.

After Mrs Phillipps lost her husband, she did not lose her sense of adventure.

She travelled overseasby herself several times, learned to speak French and became a keen bridge player.

Mrs Phillipps moved to Ashton Gardens 13 years ago to be close to family in Maitland.

She lived independently until 2015 when she became the first person to register to live at Opal Rutherford.

The secret to health andlongevityaccording to Mrs Phillippsis home-madebeer, which she used to brew in rubbish bins inthe back yard with her husband, and “a whisky a night”.

Mrs Phillippssaid she was very grateful for the life she has lived so far. She will spend her birthday at a high tea at Mansfield House followed by her helicopter ride on Saturday.

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