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    SPECIAL MILESTONE: Horsham’s Jean Robinson will celebrate her 100th birthday on Boxing Day. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Jean's secret? – ‘There’s no secret... enjoy life’

Horsham’s Jean Robinson is looking forward to a big end to the week, celebrating Christmas with her family followed by her milestone 100th birthday on Boxing Day.

On Monday, Mrs Robinson will host an ‘open house’ for family and friends looking to pass on their best wishes to the new centenarian. 

Mrs Robinson has already started receiving letters of congratulations, including a coveted letter from the Queen.

She is also enjoying ‘beautiful’ flower deliveries and is looking forward to catching up with people from throughout the region and further afield. 

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Mrs Robinson said she had always worked hard and enjoyed life, although she did not believe there was any particular key to her longevity. 

“The days just go by, and I’m still here,” she said.

“There’s no secret, just eat anything you like, in moderation. I’ve never smoked or drank. You’ve just got to look after yourself.”

Mrs Robinson was born to William and Annie Gardner on December 26, 1921.

She was premature, with her mother giving birth at home at Goroke following a big Christmas Day, which involved a 45-kilometre round trip by horse and buggy to have lunch with Grandma Finnigan.

Mrs Robinson was the second of four children and left school after year eight to help at home.

She became an excellent cook and during shearing time used to stay on various farms to provide meals for shearers. 

Times were tough during the great Australian Depression and Mrs Robinson later worked in Goroke at Blands newsagency and Kemps general store.

As a teenager, she met Bert Robinson at local dances and through playing tennis.

They fell in love, but their romance was interrupted by the Second World War.

Mr Robinson went to war in 1939 and on his way home from the Middle East in 1942, his ship was diverted to New Guinea where largely inexperienced soldiers were doing battle with the Japanese. 

He was wounded while fighting in the mountains, ultimately resulting in the loss of his right leg.

Mr Robinson returned home to find Jean waiting for him. 

They rekindled their relationship and despite his injury, Mr Robinson remained ‘determined and stubborn’.

He told his partner he would not get married until he could walk down the aisle.

After many trips to Melbourne for operations and rehabilitation, Mr Robinson was finally fitted with a wooden leg and could walk unaided.

The couple married on August 4, 1944. 

For the first five years they lived on the Robinson farm with Bert’s father and brother, Ernie. 

In the last of the five years, Bert and Jean built their house at Carpalac and moved to their own farm in 1949.

One of Mrs Robinson’s jobs was to ride her horse ‘old Jack’ around the sheep at lambing time. 

She recalls many difficult times, particularly one of the droughts when she had 14 pet lambs and not enough milk for any more.

Mrs Robinson said shooting starving sheep and burying them in a pit was among the tough times.

To their great joy, the Robinsons welcomed a daughter, Robyn Christine, in March 1951.

The farm proved profitable for many years, however the work became harder for Bert with his ‘pretty basic’ wooden leg.

In 1960, they moved to Horsham and built their home in Natimuk Road. 

Mr Robinson took on work as a book keeper at a farm machinery dealer, while Mrs Robinson was actively involved with the church, Spinners and Weavers, and supported her husband at Horsham Gun Club and Rotary.  The Robinsons both played golf, but Mrs Robinson’s favourite leisure activity was fishing.

She enjoyed many years of cooking for various charities and also took in boarders – country girls who came to Horsham for work. 

With age and failing health, the Robinsons moved into a unit in 1992. 

Mr Robinson died in 1999 as a result of prostate cancer and Parkinson’s disease.

Mrs Robinson had heart bypass surgery in 1996 and an experimental heart valve replacement surgery in 2010.

Her surgeon is proud of her and is pleased to recognise her 100th birthday.

Mrs Robinson has three grandchildren, Shannon, Anna and Tamika and four great-grandchildren, Maya, Florence, Felix and Clementine. 

Her daughter Robyn said Mrs Robinson’s family loved ‘Nana’ dearly and she loved spending time with them.

“Living 100 years is an amazing achievement and one that is hard for the rest of us to imagine or fully appreciate,” she said. 

“Living through the hardships of the Great Depression, two world wars, the droughts and the challenges of establishing a farm in a remote area with very limited transport, communication or medical support is a major achievement. 

“Not to mention the dreaded COVID-19.

“Congratulations Nana on your 100th birthday – we love you dearly and wish you well in the years ahead.”

The entire December 22, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!

The entire December 22, 2021 edition of AgLife is available online. READ IT HERE!