Capecare resident Betty Trotter celebrated her 101st birthday this year, recounting her most memorable life moments – and what a life it has been.
From her childhood growing up in Cottesloe with sister Pat, to training as a nurse, creating a rich life in Donnybrook with first husband Glen, remarrying at 82 and skydiving at the age of 92 … Betty has jumped at every opportunity thrown her way.
Owing her long life and limited number of illnesses to a good diet and keeping active, Betty remembers most fondly her time spent with first husband Glen in Donnybrook where she belonged to many different community groups.
“Because I was so involved with [Girl] Guiding when I was younger, when I moved to Donnybrook I pursued a number of community commitments.”
Betty also started Donnybrook’s first arts and crafts group, was on the hospital auxiliary delivering flowers and helping people in need and was one of the first local women to be active in Rotary where she was an exchange student counsellor.
“We would have many students stay with us before they went to their host families. I really enjoyed this because of my experience in Girl Guides,” she said.
“I loved the age group and being able to be part of the students’ experiences.”
She was also an avid golfer. “I played every week in Donnybrook, and my neighbour Kath, who was also a good friend and the captain, introduced me to pennants. But I decided to just play socially in the end and later became the treasurer for the ladies’ golf club – I held that position for quite a while.”
When Betty was 92 years old, another unexpected opportunity came her way when her grandson offered to take her on her first skydive, an achievement she says was one she was ‘most proud of’.
“I was with my daughter, her husband, and my grandson in Jurien Bay, where they live, and my grandson had gotten involved in the skydiving group and was learning all the roles,” she said.
“One day when I was visiting them, he talked me into doing a jump and organised for me to go up to 15,000 feet, which was the highest jump.”
“I didn’t scream when I jumped. It was such a beautiful day – I remember the sea looking like glass, I could see little fishing boats, and the coastline. It was lovely, I really enjoyed it,” she said.
Betty has even appeared on TV but it wasn’t because she went to acting school. While at Fiona Stanley Hospital for a transcatheter aortic valve replacement operation at age 94, Betty was approached by heart surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp who asked if she would be a guest on her television show Heartbeat: The miracle inside you.
“I decided to do it because I was passionate about health,” Betty said.
“Dr Nikki is a wonderful woman. There were only five doctors in WA at the time who specialised in these heart operations, and Dr Nickki interviewed me for the show after my operation.”
The show is available to watch on ABC iView as an episode on science show Catalyst (watch from 48:13 and as well as the operation interview and footage, you can also see her skydiving!)
When Betty was 99, she met Governor Kim Beazley due to her 30-year membership with the War Widows Guild.
“I received a letter in the mail asking if I would go to an afternoon tea for members, and it was being held by the then Governor Kim Beasley,” she said.
“I sat at a table with Kim’s wife and a few other people who were widows from the Vietnam War, and after the tea Mr Beazley came up to me and gave me a gift – I was the only person at the tea who received one.”
Betty had a full family life in addition to her number of community commitments, raising four children with Glen – three boys and a girl who she is extremely close to.
She would holiday with her family in Busselton throughout their marriage, but her life remained in Donnybrook with Glen working on the farm and butcher shop.
Eventually the couple moved to the RAAF Estate in Merriwa, north of Perth, after Glen was diagnosed with Parkinsons and suffered other vascular complications from his time in the war. Betty remained at their Merriwa home for years after Glen passed away.
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Betty also did a lot of travelling throughout her life noting her favourite places as Scotland, Norway, and Austria.
Her nursing background also followed on from her mother, with her sister Pat also training as a nurse before moving to New Zealand.
“When I was young, I was a quite naughty girl,” she said. “But I loved school and my time at PLC. My sister didn’t like it as much but we both ended up doing the same thing – nursing.”
Betty received three proposals throughout her life – the first from a Melbourne boy, the second her husband Glen, and the third, at 82-years-old from Lloyd Trotter, which she accepted.
Betty moved to Capecare in October 2022, from her home in Merriwa, and said moving from independent living to assisted living had been tough at first but she settled in quicker than she expected.
“The staff are wonderful, they really are. They spoil me,” she said.
“They always come up to me and throw their arms around me. I don’t have any favourites – they’re all great.”
Happy 101st year Betty from everyone at Capecare! Keep making the most of every opportunity.
Capecare is the largest regional based independent aged care provider in Western Australia, existing to serve the needs of our older people in the Capes Region.
For more than 60 years Capecare has served the needs of our older people in the Capes Region and is the largest regional based independent aged care provider in Western Australia.
For more information on Capecare’s independent living, community and home care, respite, and residential care services visit www.capecare.com.au