Tales of love, loss and Legacy
WHILE Shelia Smith's future husband was serving in the British army, he would court her with love letters from all over the world.
The 88-year-old was only nine when World War II broke out.
Her husband George Smith, who was 10 years older than her, preferred not to talk about his time serving.
The Hervey Bay retiree was one of 165 Legacy War Widows who attended their Christmas lunch at Hervey Bay Returned Serviceman's League yesterday.
Ms Smith served in the air-force herself as a self-dubbed "glorified shop assistant" working with equipment.
Ms Smith said she was one of the lucky ones as her husband survived the war and nine years in the armed force.
The couple migrated from England to Australia in 1967 and called Fairfield in NSW home for 20 years.
After moving to Gosford for another 12 years, the couple uprooted bound for Hervey Bay to be closer to family in 2000.
"He was a wonderful man," Ms Smith said.
"In his obituary his grandchildren said the greatest gift he had given them was knowledge.
"He was so creative, he used to play with them and hang things from the ceiling and told them they could have it if they could get it without using their hands.
"The neighbour's children would often knock on the door and ask 'Can George come out to play?'."
Mr Smith died 10 years ago aged 88 and Ms Smith is now a resident at Bolton Clarke Baycrest Retirement Living.
Fellow attendee Lorna Eileen Beale, 85, has spent the last 36 years as a lone woman devoted to her late husband Frank Beale's memory.
Ms Beale was friends with her future husband during war time but it wasn't until years later she became his wife in the 1960s for a "wonderful" 15 years.
Originally from Lismore, the retiree has been in Hervey Bay for the past 14 years.
"Legacy hasbeen wonderful to me," she said.
"I only use their help when I need it but when I suffered an aneurysm and it took a while to use my legs again they were great support."
Legacy volunteer David Crickmore said there were currently 362 widows in the Hervey Bay group stretching from River Heads to Burrum district.
"Legacy's whole ethos is to give back service to servicemen and women and their families," he said.
"Some of these people live alone or are in nursing homes and events like this enable the ladies to come out and build great relationships with people who know what they went through and might be feeling."