Great grandmother and one of the oldest residents at not-for-profit aged care home Mercy Place Mandurah, Frances Russell, spent Mothers’ Day in good company.
This year, 90-year-old Frances celebrated motherhood along with three generations of family - her four living children and their partners, her 11 grandchildren and her 18 great-grandchildren (with one more on the way!).
And when it comes to catching up with her 50 plus family members (including partners) over a Sunday afternoon picnic, the matriarch is never short of tales to tell.
Born in Subiaco on 15 July 1927, Frances was attracted to the ocean at a young age, meeting her future husband - Graham Russell - at North Cottesloe beach, when he reportedly threw an apple core at her and told her she had skinny legs.
The rest, as they say, is history and the couple were married for 65 years and shared a passion for swimming and the ocean during that time - they were both heavily involved in the North Cottesloe Surf Club for over 60 years and were regular attendees at the annual Australian Surf Lifesaving Championships.
When she was in her early 40s Frances trained to be a swimming instructor and, over more than 25 years, taught children how to swim from as far afield as Subiaco to Mandurah, North Cottesloe to Fremantle and Innaloo to Rottnest.
Daughter Francine Jacobs said the family always treasured spending time with Frances, who she describes as the true matriarch of the family and who has lived in Mandurah for close to 20 years.
“It’s wonderful to have mum around, she is the oldest surviving member of our family and she has contributed so much to the Perth community during her lifetime,” she says.
“She has taught thousands of young West Australians to swim, including migrant children at the Fairbridge farm, where there was never the luxury of a pool, but instead a pretty muddy river creek. Nonetheless, she made learning to swim incredibly fun and the children loved her.”
Mercy Health Mandurah Service Manager, Christina Venables, says staff held a special Mothers’ Day lunch to recognise the unsung heroes in the Mercy Place Mandurah community - mums.
“Mother’ Day presents the perfect opportunity to recognise the special bond between mums and their children, and also to recognise their selfless dedication, love and care for their grandchildren and even great-grandchildren,” she says.
“There are many incredible women like Frances at Mercy Place Mandurah who have led quite extraordinary lives, and Sunday 13 May is an opportunity for us to recognise them and to celebrate Mothers’ Day together.”
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