Thelma Barnes and Charles Newman

It was a pleasure this week to accompany two of my constituents who are over 100 years old to the centenarians afternoon tea held by the government in Queen’s Hall. Thelma Barnes, who is 101 and was born on 23 June 1911, and Charles Ormsby Newman, who is 102 and was born on 11 June 1910, both attended the event. They have over 200 years of history in the Brunswick electorate between them. Thelma has lived in Brunswick her entire life, and Charles has lived in both Coburg and Brunswick.

Charles spoke of his life history. He lost his mother a week after he was born, and then his father died in Korea of pneumonia. He was raised by his grandmother in Coburg and went on to have a very close and tight-knit family. Thelma has lived in Brunswick her whole life. Her son was mayor of Brunswick at one point, and with a quick wit and a real sense of humour she spoke of being the ‘lady mayoress’. I asked Charles the secret to his longevity. He said to get a lot of sleep and that when he went to the doctor and was asked how he was, he said, ‘Well, I woke up today and therefore it’s a good day’. I kept stumbling and calling them centurions instead of centenarians. Their response demonstrated their great humour — they both saw the joke in that.

It was a wonderful afternoon, and I pay tribute to both of them.

Hansard, 2013