Bunbury woman celebrated her 100th birthday at ANZAC Cottage

Marjorie Williams with St John Ambulance community support team member. Photo is supplied.
Marjorie Williams with St John Ambulance community support team member. Photo is supplied.

Bunbury's Marjorie Williams celebrated her milestone birthday of 100 by going back to where she was born.

On January 3, 1921 Mrs Williams (nee Porter) was born in the front room of ANZAC Cottage in Mount Hawthorn.

ANZAC Cottage was built by the local community in one day on February 12, 1916 as Western Australia's first memorial to those who served at Gallipoli, and as a home for returned wounded soldier Private John Cuthbert Porter and his family.

Mrs Williams is one of four children and the only surviving member of the original family.

She lived in the cottage until 1946, served as an air raid warden in World War II and in the Australian Women's Army Service from 1942 to 1945.

Ms Williams married a serving soldier in 1945 and moved to the Goldfields where she raised four children.

In 1989, she saved the cottage from demolition by using her war widow's pension to fund a legal ruling, which deemed it be vested in the State.

The property fell into disrepair in the 1980s and in 1992 a group of Vietnam veterans embarked on a project to restore the cottage, enlisting the help of Mrs Williams.

The centenarian's daughter Anne Chapple enlisted the help of St John Ambulance community transport team to take Mrs Williams to her birth place.

"We knew getting Mum up here for her birthday would be a challenge," Ms Chapple said.

"While she is relatively healthy, it is a long journey from Bunbury, and we wouldn't have been able to make it happen without the help of St John WA's amazing staff and volunteers.

"She has had such an amazing life and has so many stories to tell, so we are so pleased we're able to reunite her with the wider family and celebrate this milestone together."

St John WA General Manager of Patient Transfer & Community Transport, Alan Clyne said St John feels privileged to be able to help Marjorie connect with her heritage safely and celebrate such a momentous occasion with her family.

"Moments like this remind us why we do what we do. We're so happy to be able to transport Marjorie to her family for what will be a celebration to remember," he said.

Ms Chapple said ANZAC Cottage had always held a special place in her mum's heart.

"Whenever I visit Mum, her first question is: 'How is ANZAC Cottage?'" Ms Chapple said.

"Even after all these years, the cottage continues to be one of the most valued and important aspects of her life.

"Over the years she has donated money and sponsored events at the cottage to ensure its history could be shared with the greater community."

The Friends of ANZAC Cottage was formed in 2006 to share the story and community spirit of the house at 38 Kalgoorlie Street, Mount Hawthorn, which is classified by the National Trust, recognised by the WA Heritage Council and on the Register of National Estate.

Friends of ANZAC Cottage President Peter Ramsay BEM said Mrs Williams had been instrumental in ensuring the cottage and its story remained for generations to come.

"Her memories of life in the cottage and her historical knowledge were invaluable in ensuring that our restorations were accurate and resembled the original building as closely as possible," he said.