SHE loves her bingo, is a bit of a social butterfly on her day, and while she mightn’t hold the record for the oldest to have lived there, Audrey Cross is definitely the queen of her royal kingdom at McKay House in Tamworth.
The woman renowned in her family for her early poetry, yesterday officially celebrated her 104th birthday but the day before she’d been the star of the show with three other generations of her family around her.
The big birthday cake was bought out and the family gathered to honour a woman whose love, lifelong work and support and generosity has kept them close and caring. She’s a mother of five sons, grandmother of 14, and a great-grandmum of nine.
Audrey was the third of five children born to Piallamore farmers George and Gertrude Lye on June 29, 1910, and because times were tough she missed out on being able to go to high school and board in town, so she worked on the farm until she got a job at the then Treloars department store in Tamworth.
At 18, she married Sid Cross and they had five sons.
According to son Don, the family lived in Church St before moving to another home in Denne St about 1933.
Sid passed away in 1957 and three years later Audrey and sons Peter and Ken moved into another home about seven houses back down Denne St.
At the time sons Jack and Don were studying overseas, while Ted had just moved to Farrer from Granville High School in Sydney.
She’d been a single parent for years, putting her sons through their education, putting a roof over their heads, and on a widow’s pension, supplementing it with some work as a child carer.
“She moved into St Andrews Village in Tribe St in 1986 and 14 years later, when she turned 100, not only was that milestone recognised in the usual way, but the main theme was the recognition of the outstanding contribution she had made to village life during her residency,” Don said.
The Leader published a number of her poems on social issues over the years and all the family have been featured in many poems.
While Audrey has lived all her life here, her sons’ careers took them all over the place. These days only one son Ted still lives in Tamworth. Don’s in Tasmania, Ken in Adelaide, Peter at Newcastle and Jack, who has since died, was in Port Macquarie.