Knowing who to cheer for during the Rugby World Cup must be tricky for Shelagh Mattinson.
Several moves between Commonwealth countries while her children were growing up resulted in potentially conflicting sporting preferences in her family.
“I’ve got four children of three different nationalities – one English, one New Zealander and two Australian!” she said.
The Bramblewood resident laughs when telling a story about her son Tim, the New Zealand-born member of the family, on his first day at school in Australia.
“He was seven and his new headmaster, a New Zealander, asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up.”
“When he replied ‘An All-Black, sir!’ the headmaster told him he’d better keep it quiet around his new friends!”
Hailing from Tunbridge Wells in the hop-growing region of Kent in southeast England, Shelagh was a child during the Battle of Britain.
“We were very close to the coast, near to the airfields with the little Spittys and Hurricanes, so we witnessed bombings and dogfights,” she said.
“Once, in a river near our home, I found an airman’s leg with the boot still on.
“Eventually we lost our home there when it was hit by a doodlebug.”
After marrying and giving birth to her first child, a daughter, Shelagh moved to Australia when her husband was invited to go into business here.
A stint living in Muswellbrook preceded a move to Newcastle and then New Zealand, where the growing family lived for ten years.
“We had a lovely life there,” Shelagh said.
“My husband was a yachtie so we had all sorts of thrills and spills on the water!”
After moving back to Australia Shelagh sadly lost her husband to leukaemia at only 52, and eventually re-married, meeting her new partner through her enjoyment of contract bridge.
Shelagh is unconcerned about another upcoming Rugby World Cup, as she continues to enjoy life at Bramblewood after almost four years.
“The staff here, especially the manager, Trish, really go the extra yard for us all,” she said.
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