Celebrating Inspirational Women at Moran Sylvania

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2020, we are sharing the stories of two of very special ladies at Moran Sylvania.


Doreen’s Story

97-year-old Doreen Collingridge (left) spent her childhood in country NSW in Cootamundra living a simple life in the bush.   She had a basic working-class upbringing. She undertook learning by correspondence and later attended primary school but really had no formal education after that.

As a young woman Doreen found herself married and living in Redfern, raising her young son Stephen.  After six years of marriage she became a single mum, sometimes working two jobs to make ends meet.  Her employment was often manual labour, working in local factories and shops.   Despite her lack of education, Doreen worked hard, learned as many skills as she could on the job and changed her employment often, bettering herself with each new role.  Her son Stephen told us “Mum worked hard to lift herself out of poverty and to provide a future for me.   She was always open to learning, trying new things and taking small but tiny steps to improve our lot and, through sheer determination and hard work, she did it.”

In 1965 at the age of 42, she began employment at Long Bay Jail, in a male dominated workforce.  She gradually worked her way up the ladder and eventually became the First Officer in Charge at the newly opened Mirinda Periodic Detention Centre for Women in Lidcombe.   This was an impressive achievement with Doreen gaining a reputation for being tough but fair amongst her colleagues and the weekend inmates.

After 17 years Doreen retired receiving a Minister’s Citation for Distinguished Service to the People of New South Wales.  She proudly displays this citation on the wall of her room at Moran Sylvania for all to see when they visit.

Stephen Henderson, Doreen’s son, told us – “I owe my mum so much, she worked so hard to provide a loving home for us both and to make sure that my future was secure”.

Her granddaughter Kate said – “Grandma has always been an inspiration to me. She taught me to work hard and to be open to new people and experiences.   As a child I loved hearing her travel stories – she was proud to have travelled through Europe, Asia, USA and Canada”.

Pat’s Story

91-year-old Pat Lord (right) has been at resident at Moran Sylvania for almost five years.  Prior to moving in Pat had been a long time Kurnell resident, living in a little cottage close to the beach.  She was a proactive member of her community and had spent many years contributing as a volunteer on the Kurnell Progress & Precinct Residents’ Association and Kurnell Project Management Inc organisers of the Festival of Kurnell, Pat was an active member of both groups until she was well into her eighties.  Pat was also a Bushcare volunteer with Sutherland Shire Council and was always keen to roll up her sleeves and get involved when she was needed.

Pat was known by her family and friends for being spontaneous and ready for an adventure, after completing her nursing training in Adelaide, Pat and one of her nursing colleagues took off on an overseas adventure which saw them backpacking around the UK and Europe.

Friend Dorothy Exon told us “Even in well into her seventies Pat was no shrinking violet, she would hop in her little Daihatsu and set off for Adelaide or Brisbane without a care, she was happy travelling solo and loved a good road trip”!  Pat also shares that she watched the Beatles arrive at Mascot airport in 1964.

Combining an interest in aircraft history with her professional, Pat also spent many years working as a Registered Nurse for Qantas, 29 in total working in Darwin and then later transferring to Kingsford Smith Airport in Sydney.  Her role was to provide nursing care to patients flying into Sydney.

Now in her nineties Pat lives life a little more sedately and enjoys the morning bus trips and social activities.

Said General Manager, Lorraine Kelly –  It is great to read these stories about Doreen & Pat.  These stories serve to remind us that the most senior members of our community were young once and lived big exciting and fulfilling lives.  We will be celebrating these women and all the women who are part of the Moran Sylvania community with a special International Women’s Day high tea on the 8th March.

For more information about Moran Sylvania read more here or contact us on 9532 6222

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