Faces of Tamworth: Phyl Bylund, charity worker, CWA member, world traveller and centenarian

A century of independence: Tamworth woman Phyl Bylund will turn 100 years old on January 24. Photo: Peter Hardin 030118PHB071
A century of independence: Tamworth woman Phyl Bylund will turn 100 years old on January 24. Photo: Peter Hardin 030118PHB071

Phyllis Bylund moved to Tamworth because her doctor told her he couldn’t change the weather – and the city is all the richer for her presence. Phyl, who turned 100 years old in January, is a longtime CWA member and has raised thousands for many organisations, one of her favourite causes being St Andrew’s Village. She never married, having seen others’ relationships and thinking she’d best avoid that kind of trouble, and still lives independently.

Tamworth woman Phyl Bylund was once told she would only make it to 66 years old.

Of course, it was a questionable source, but she’s defied it in a big way as she reaches the incredible milestone of her 100th birthday.

Miss Bylund celebrated on January 24 with a lunch with family and friends – including her younger sister, whose birthday is on the same day but will no doubt be slightly overshadowed.

She said she “never thought” she’d reach 100.

“Years ago, over on the coast ... we used to have these Madame ‘whoever’, who used to tell your fortune. It used to be two bob.

“[One night my friend] said, ‘Come on, we’ll go and have our fortune told’, so we went in ... they told me I’d last till I was 66.

“When 65 came, I thought, ‘Well, this is near the end’ – but it still goes on.”

Miss Bylund said her number-one tip for a long and healthy life was to drink lots of water and to not smoke.

“I don’t think people realise what it’s doing to them. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink, I don’t gamble and I don’t eat eggs … [You have to] do the right things, I suppose: have a good night’s sleep, get up and do your work and get interested in some other things.

“There’s always someone wanting some help.”

She is very well-travelled, having visited the United States, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, England, France, Sweden and many Pacific islands, to name a few.

Her career was also “full of travel”: she spent all her working life with the Postmaster General’s Department, first as a telephonist at Lismore and ultimately as a supervisor, trainer and inspector across the New England and North West.

She found it hard to think how she’d describe herself, but agreed to “independent” – she still lives on her own.

“I suppose I am. I’ve been around by myself for so many years now, so that you had to do it yourself or else.”

Asked if she had any advice for young people about what was really important – or not – in life, her attitude was live-and-let-live: “I figure I’ll leave it up to their decision; make up their own minds. I had to do that.”

How you can nominate someone for The Northern Daily Leader’s #Tamworth200 campaign