19 December 2019   

1 min read
Betty Govan learnt to sew at a young age and has since created a wonderful, happy life, one thread at a time.

Born in Brunswick in 1927 as the youngest of four children, Betty Govan was naturally resilient. After her father passed following World War I, Betty's mother had to work extremely hard to keep the family warm and well. 

"In the wintertime she would put large sheets of brown paper over our thin blankets to keep us warm," Betty says. 

Her mother raised the four children alone and would leave a cooked meal for tea, despite leaving home by foot and public transport at 5am to clean the AMP Building in they City, then return in the afternoon to do more cleaning after business closed. 

As school wasn't for her, she remembers her mother telling her she had to go to work. 

"Mum said I had to learn to sew. So, she took me up to the local tailor shop and there I started my four-year sewing apprenticeship", Betty says. "I love working there with great people."

With a pay packet of only 15 shillings - to which she had to divvy up for board and clothes - Betty was most excited to buy her first pair of brand-new shoes. She had previously only worn hand-me-downs and puts her tailoring skills down to her Mum, as she used to mend shoes rather than buy new.

The Oak Grange resident saw her tailoring skills put to good use again after she met and married "her David", a wedding for which she made David's suit, overcoat and sports jacket. 

A proud and supportive wife of her late husband, who was a local Superintendent and Honorary Officer for the Children's Courts for five years, Betty says David and herself lived a full and happy life. But not without challenges. After being there day-after-day, year-after-year for her mum who needed care and again for David's mum, Betty's thoughtful and kind nature cannot be disputed. 

"It was very rewarding and very hard", Betty says. 

Immersing herself in the vibrant village social scene at Stockland's Oak Grange Retirement Village, Betty is a frequent volunteer. 

"I have worked in the Village Shop for 25 years. On Fridays we would take about $200!" Betty says. 

"David and I spent many happy years at Oak Grange. We loved every part of living here. I still do."