Lila Collins and Legacy volunteer Tom Polley
Lila Collins and Legacy volunteer Tom Polley

Why this CQ war widow is smiling from ear-to-ear

GARDENING has long been a form of therapy for Rockhampton’s own Lila Collins since the untimely passing of her husband John 50 years ago.

Her husband, who served in World War II, tragically died following a heart attack aged 47 – his wife left widowed with five young children.

While hardships followed, Mrs Collins took comfort in knowing she was supported by local organisation Legacy in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Today, she said, only further cemented her gratitude to the organisation’s big-hearted volunteers after becoming the recipient of its Backyard Assist program.

The mammoth project was undertaken by around 20 Legacy volunteers and local Army Reserves personnel from the 31st and 42nd Battalions.

Legacy volunteers with the Army Reserves troops of the 31st and 42nd Battalion.
Legacy volunteers with the Army Reserves troops of the 31st and 42nd Battalion.

“I’ve lived here for 50 years and it’s been 50 years of [the garden] gathering things here. It’s been so wonderful to see it all go,” the 91-year-old said.

“I used to love gardening, I spent a lot of time in the garden and my knees are gone now from all the kneeling down and weeding.”

Works at the residence include a complete backyard makeover including the refurbishment of Mrs Collin’s pergola.

Legatee Tom Polley said he was incredibly proud of the enormous efforts all volunteers had contributed.

“If you’d have seen this place this morning, as Lila said it had 50 years of overgrowth,” he said.

“She was a keen gardener but she’s 92 this year and while she enjoys gardening, it’s flowers and potting, not getting rid of 50 years of overgrowth.”

READ MORE: CQ legatee is making lives a whole lot brighter

READ MORE: Legacy calls for volunteers on the Capricorn Coast

READ MORE: Legacy club supporting CQ war widows

Legacy works with loved ones of servicemen and woman who have been injured or passed away.
Legacy works with loved ones of servicemen and woman who have been injured or passed away.

While the program was temporarily postponed during the COVID-19 lockdown, Mr Polley is excited to now be back in action.

“It’s great to be back and do things, personally. We still kept in contact with the widows, widowers and orphans,” he said.

“Today is about making the yard accessible and somewhere she can go out and enjoy that cup of tea.”

Keeping a watchful eye over proceedings, Mrs Collins said if her husband were able to see the kind gesture he would likely be running the show.

“John was a hard worker, he was never still, he was always on the go. He’d be in with them helping them. He’s just one of those people who had to be on the go,” she laughed.

Legacy is currently on the hunt for more Legatee volunteers to join its ranks.

Those interested should contact (07) 3846 4299.



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