We didn’t want to bring our children up in Britain as we could see the shrinking economy and the social program being run back. But I had never even left Wales before, except to go to Scotland – I’m not very adventurous at all. So it was a huge thing for me to come to Australia. But when I got here, I went down to the shops and saw Oxo on the shelves and I thought, ‘Oh, this is just like home!’
For 17 years, I volunteered for Meals on Wheels every day, organizing the roster and making sure everybody turned up. I loved it. I met so many different people. I heard some really lovely stories, and really awful stories too. Sometimes you look at people and you think they’re nothing special but when they start opening up, it’s just amazing.
When we arrived, I first worked as a horticulturalist for the Council of Elizabeth in Adelaide, but within six years, I was Head of Fire, Weeds and Vermin in South Australia, and was later appointed to re-organise the CFS. I ended up as a national expert on the socio-political, economic and environmental aspects of bushfires. The irony is, both my father and one of my uncles were firemen.
One of the things that I’m really aware of is that no one questions my right to be here, that we were welcomed here because we were white and we came from the U.K. On the flipside, there are people running from horrors that we could never even imagine, who are not welcomed.
I feel so lucky to be here, and for the decision that Dad and Mum made. I can’t comprehend how you could decide to move to another country without having ever been there before.
I will be forever grateful.
Jan, Howard and Helen
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