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23 June, 2022

Mary marks eight decades in style

A SURPRISE 80th birthday celebration for Mary Winkel was a standout feature at last Saturday’s Woodford Country Carnival at the Woodford Showgrounds.


Having turned 80 on the day before the carnival, Mary Winkel (née Peterson) has been a yearly supporter of the Woodford Show since she was eight years old.

The main focus of her 80th birthday was a seven-foot high love heart in the centre of the Woodford Showgrounds pavilion.

The heart came from Mary’s daughter Beth, who was trained in Holland by a world florist judge and went on to represent Australia in three floral World Cups.

Mary always wanted her daughter to put in a florist arrangement in the pavilion, but Beth said she had always been too busy and could never get around to it.

Beth decided to surprise Mary for her 80th birthday, and have an arrangement that Mary would always remember.

Beth said this would also make up for all of the other arrangements that she hadn’t been able to put into the pavilion.

Mary’s daughter went to work and had a steel frame made up by a boilermaker friend of hers, and then planned an arrangement that her mother would cherish.

Beth transported the steel frame to the carnival via a van, and at about 6am she started packing the frame with fresh oasis so that flowers could last throughout the carnival.

The oasis was then wrapped in chicken wire, and by that stage a couple of hours had passed while working on getting the frame ready.

Beth worked all day with fresh flowers and fresh foliage as she arranged the love heart.

The day before the carnival, Beth drove to a Gerbra farm at the Sunshine Coast and picked up 150 fresh Gerbras which would be placed into the arrangement.

Beth didn’t finish working on the love heart until 8.30pm last Friday, and she later said, “It is what you would call a labour of love.”

When the carnival opened the next morning, Mary was one of the first people there and was led to the pavilion by her husband Bryan.

Mary couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the heart, and then Beth and Bryan and many locals wished her a happy 80th birthday.

“To say she was surprised was an understatement, and she thought the heart was the most beautiful arrangement that she had ever seen and couldn’t believe it was for her,” Beth said.

“She spent most of the day at the Show admiring it, and when she wasn’t admiring it she was out watching the woodchopping where her son Bruce was competing.

“He was also a champion woodchop man, holding 21 world champion titles to his name.”

A lot of memories came flooding back for Mary, who was born and raised in Woodford and said she had fond memories of the time she was eight when she attended the Show with her father for the first time.

“He would take her to the Show and they would love spending time together, especially looking at the chooks and through the pavilion,” Beth said.

When Mary was a teenager she fell in love with Bryan, a champion woodchopper, and went on to marry him.

“Marrying into a family of woodchoppers meant that now Mary would spend most of her time at the Woodford Show at the woodchopping arena, and this would become an activity that would win Mary’s heart,” Beth said.

Mary competed in pennant grade tennis events in Woodford and the surrounding areas, and secured a job in Brisbane at the age of 14 as a talented tailoress of men’s suits.

Mary moved from Woodford to Mount Mee after she was married. Mary and Bryan bought a small dairy farm including 75 cows and, with sheer hard work and determination, Mary turned the small farm into one of the largest farms in the north coast of Queensland.

Mary raised her three children on the farm, and now has eight grandchildren and five great grandchildren.

Beth said she and her two brothers love and adore their mother, and are already wondering what to do for her 81st birthday.

“It’s going to have to be even bigger to beat the love heart at the Woodford Show that all of the public enjoyed viewing throughout the day, and getting selfies with for their Facebook (page) and beautiful memories,” she said.


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