Gymea resident's 105 year life story recorded by volunteer biographer

Frank Mawer in his Gymea home with volunteer biographer Tim Higgins. Picture: John Veage
Frank Mawer in his Gymea home with volunteer biographer Tim Higgins. Picture: John Veage

There was a lot of ground to cover when volunteer biographer Tim Higgins sat down to write the life story of Frank Mawer, who is 105.

But, after a series of conversations over several weeks, which were recorded and transcribed, the project is close to completion.

Mr Mawer, of Gymea, is  looking forward to seeing the bound book, which he will be able to pass on to his family.

HammondCare at Home has seven volunteer trained biography writers who are matched with clients in Sutherland Shire.

The biography is the client’s story told in their own words, in their own way.

HammondCare says the service is “about much more than simply achieving something that can be held in the hand – it’s real value lies more in creating a space for personal reflection at the end of life”. 

Mr Higgins, a TAFE administrator and community services worker before his retirement, said it was the first biography he had worked on, and he had enjoyed the project immensely.

“Frank is a lovely guy, and it was fascinating listening to his stories,” he said.

“He doesn’t fit the stereotype of a 105-year-old. He is very capable, has a mobile phone and computer, and is very ‘with it’.”

Mr Mawer’s life story includes his early years as a ward of the state and his later decision, stemming from his Christian beliefs, to be a conscientious objector during World War 11.

Instead of fighting, he spent 12 months in the Northern Territory outback building a roof from bush timber over an ammunition dump and another year in Katherine building an abattoirs for the army.

The biography also tells of his marriage and family life in which he and his late wife Elizabeth raised six children in a two-bedroom house at Kingsgrove.

Mr Higgins said, “Frank lived through the best part of the last century, and he has a strong commitment to the Christian faith, which is inspirational”.

Mr Mawer said, “I think we have covered a lot over 100 years”.

“Tim has been very patient in getting the information and putting it together.

“It’s going to be an interesting read.”

Mr Mawer is in good health after recovering from the flu, which led to him spending a month in Sutherland Hospital where “they looked after me very well”.