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Sandy Worboys, Beleura Retirement Village, Mornington

They say your first love leaves a mark and Sandy Worboys can show you hers — a scar on her head from the car accident that was the catalyst for her long marriage to Jerry.

A waiter carries a try of finger food with the text - Navy, Malta, car accident, air traffic control, bar maid, hotel management, catering, search and rescue.

They say your first love leaves a mark and Sandy Worboys can show you hers — a scar on her head from the car accident that was the catalyst for her long marriage to Jerry.

Sandy was born in Birmingham in 1943 and left school to start work as a typist, before joining the navy at 17.

‘I just hated my job. Every day, the same people on the bus with the windows all steamed up and all hacking and coughing. One lunch time I walked past the recruiting office, and I thought, “Whoa, that might be a good idea”.’

Sandy trained in navy communications and was socialising with colleagues when Jerry offered to drive everyone back to base — a little too fast as it turned out. The car rolled and both Sandy and Jerry were injured, but when they kept bumping into each other in the naval sick bay, love blossomed.

They began to plan a June wedding but had to bring it forward when Jerry landed a plum NATO posting in Malta. Sandy had to resign to accompany him, but she enjoyed living as part of the expat military community.

‘Jerry was well paid, and we could get duty free alcohol,’ she laughs.

Baby Peter

The couple returned to the UK with six-month old baby Peter. When Jerry was sent to sea a few years later, Sandy took a job as a barmaid, ‘much to Jerry’s horror’, she laughs, ‘but it was lots of fun and the extra money was very useful just prior to coming to Australia’.

Jerry was ready to leave the navy when he had learned air traffic control centres in Australia had jobs for ex-Navy officers. Sandy’s family had settled in Adelaide, so the couple decided to make the move. They arrived on a Saturday and by Monday Jerry had a job at the airport.

They only had $800 and a packing case with them, so Sandy got a part-time job and they scraped together the deposit to buy their first home.

First home

‘It was $11,500. We had an $8,000 mortgage, which was the most they would give us. We got a $2,000 second mortgage and a $1,000 personal loan and scraped up the $500.’

Sandy went back to work full time, learning how to run a hotel, which later helped her become the Assistant to Banquet Manager at O’Brien Catering in Melbourne.

‘O’Brien’s expanded and my workload increased because they were getting more and more venues. Plus, we were catering at outside venues — lots of deb balls, which were the thing in those days…our first big concert was Fleetwood Mac at Calder Raceway.’

Back stage requests

Sandy had to deal with bands requesting items like Southern Comfort and Perrier water. ‘Things I'd never heard of.’

When the job got too big, she resigned but was tempted back to do corporate catering for the Australian Masters at Huntingdale and the Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island.

After a stint in communications at the airport, Sandy moved over to Search and Rescue. On Fridays, she was responsible for thinking up training scenarios, like bird strikes and kept a log of search aircraft flying times and all costs.

There were more jobs and more moves before the couple settled into their retirement village in Mornington, although it doesn’t look like Sandy will be slowing down any time soon.

‘I volunteered for the social committee and, because of my background, I organise all the functions.’

Listen to Sandy's story

Reviewed 30 August 2022