Faces of Tamworth: Centenarian siblings Nevell McDonald and Phyllis Peterson

Double century: Nevell McDonald was recently joined in the centenarian club by his sister Phyllis Peterson. Photo: Gareth Gardner
Double century: Nevell McDonald was recently joined in the centenarian club by his sister Phyllis Peterson. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Few people in Tamworth have seen the amount of change that Nevell and Phyllis have. The Leader recently caught up with the pair hit big milestones, with Phyllis joining Nevell in the centurion club.

They spent their entire childhood racing each other, and while Nevell McDonald won the race to be 100 years old in 2016, his only sibling, sister Phyllis Peterson, has amazingly joined him in the centenarian club.

While the soon-to-be 102-year-old former Loomberah farmer Mr McDonald still lives by himself and is a regular at the City Bowling Club, where he is a life member, while Phyllis resides in a nursing home in Brisbane after a long career as an obstetrics nurse.

“Phyllis was always a very caring and giving person – she is the two time Queensland volunteer of the year and the only protestant to be blessed by the pope after she took a group of handicapped people to meet him,” Mr McDonald said.

The pair are the last living pupils of the former Loomberah School, which closed it’s doors in 1928, although unfortunately were unable to celebrate their milestones with each other. 

“We used to race to school on our horses every day, Phyllis had a race horse called Ben which she always remembered because she always won,” Mr McDonald said.

“When the school closed we had to go to Nemingha, so it was a seven mile race each way then. We also used to race to see who could milk the cow the fastest as well.”  

Mr McDonald said that while there was no hidden secret to their long lives, he did confirm that it mostly came down to attitude and luck - with a side of whiskey.

Few people in Tamworth have seen the amount of change that Mr McDonald can claim to have witnessed, with photos on the wall of his East Tamworth home showing him ploughing a field with a team of eight horses, while at one stage he held the record for most putting the most grain in the Nemingha silo in one day.

He only gave up driving last year, although has never lost his sense of humour.

Son David said that recently at a solicitors office Nevell was asked for all of his health records.

The simple yet dry reply was “I don’t have any.”

“The oldest man in the world is 122, I won’t be around by then but I reckon Dad has got 110 in the bag at least, and then we will see from there,” David said.

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