6 October 2022

Wimmera Nursing Home resident Daphne Skews is celebrating her 100th birthday this weekend with a large gathering of family and friends.

Daphne said she had been amazed to have enjoyed such a long life. The eldest of eight children, Daphne Schneider was born in Nhill and started life at her family home in Ellam, south of Rainbow.

In 1925 the Schneider family moved to Nhill where Daphne would attend school. After school she worked in retail shops, including Nhill Stores, and volunteered with the Red Cross.

When Australia became involved in the Second World War, 20-year-old Daphne joined the Royal Australian Air Force as an aircraftswoman. She was stationed all around the country including, Sydney, Laverton, Sale and Charters Towers in Queensland. Daphne remembers she was at Charters Towers when the war ended.

“We were camped very near the airstrip at the time and there was quite a lot of excitement” Daphne said.

“Everyone got on the airstrip and played up a bit that day.”

Daphne said she remained in the air force after the war and was offered a training course. She chose dress-making and tailoring.

During the war, Daphne had twice crossed paths with a young man she had taken a liking to and after the war ended, they met again. Daphne moved to Brisbane to be near her new beau and then the cotton-farming town of Dirranbandi, on the Qld-NSW border where Stan Skews proposed to Daphne.

They were married in Brisbane and settled in Dirranbandi. Their only son Richard was born in Brisbane and when he was still a toddler, the family returned to Nhill where Daphne applied her dress-making and tailoring skills. When Richard was six the family moved again, this time to Melbourne where Stan would train as a teacher of tertiary education.

Daphne worked in retail fashion stores until 1971 when she and Stan moved to Mildura so Stan could teach the course he had studied and he could also enjoy his favourite recreation of fishing the Murray River. Stan passed away in Christmas, 1983 but Daphne remained in Mildura where she enjoyed yoga classes for almost 30 years.

In 2003, Daphne moved to Horsham to be nearer to her brothers and sisters. She was in her early 80s  and continued yoga in Horsham for a few more years.

Daphne said it was amazing to look back at her long life.

“I feel contented with my life. I can’t say that I’ve ever been uncomfortable with any part of my life,” she said.

“I don’t think there’s any secret to a long life. You just take each day as it comes and get on with it.

“Just do what you want to do.”

Daphne Shirley and Sid Web

Pictured: Daphne Skews with her brother Sid Schneider and his wife Shirley.