Sewing machine with the text Active at 80, Family of Girls, Ararat, St Kilda Football Club, Losing Children, 2010 Grand Final, Hard Work   Recognising senior Victorians logo and image

If you visit Liz Cowell’s aged care facility on a Monday, Wednesday or Friday morning, be prepared for a workout. Liz, 81, runs a 25-minute class that takes her fellow residents through their paces with exercises that work their arms and legs and strengthen their coordination. ‘Most are down sitting down but some are done standing whilst holding onto the back of a chair,’ Liz says. Liz was such a regular participant of the class that she agreed to lead it. ‘Sometimes I only get three or four in the class, sometimes I might get ten. But I enjoy it.’

Family life

Liz was born in Ararat in 1940, one of five girls. The family moved around a lot before settling in Beaufort. ‘Dad worked in the sawmills and we went wherever there was work.’ After leaving school, Liz began working in a factory, making pajama pants. She met her husband, George, in town. ‘Beaufort’s not a big place. We met at the pool. I don’t remember if he asked me out or if I asked.’ No matter, the date went well, and the couple married when Liz was 20 with three children following soon after. ‘I always said my honeymoon was a success because I had my first child exactly nine months after I got married,’ she laughs.

The family moved to Geelong to give the children more opportunities. George started working at Alcoa and Liz got another factory job when the kids were in high school. Unfortunately, both boys were born with Cystic fibrosis and died aged in their twenties. ‘That's life I’m afraid, so you just try to be as happy as much as you can and I am as much as I can be,’ Liz says. ‘The thing I'm most proud of now is my two grandchildren and my daughter.’

A Saints fan

For the past 30 years, Liz has also been a passionate St Kilda footy club supporter and she is still upset about the contentious 2010 Grand Final, which saw the Saints lose to Collingwood in a rematch after the first Grand Final ended in a draw. ‘They should have played the extra 10 minutes. We should have beat Collingwood.’