Matriarch of Shelly Beach Brass Monkeys celebrates 101st birthday

When it comes to royalty, no one surpasses Queen Elsie in the eyes of members of the Shelly Beach Brass Monkeys Sunrise Swimming Club.

More than 35 club members gathered at Taren Point Bowling Club on Sunday for a surprise party for Elsie McNaughton on her 101st birthday.

Elsie is the matriarch of the Brass Monkeys, being the eldest of the three surviving early morning swimmers at Shelly Beach ocean pool, who formed the club in 1968.

The others are Jim McKeirehan, 93, who, like Elsie, lives at Woolooware Shores Anglican Retirement Village, and Les Hokin, 89, who continues to swim each day at Shelly Beach.

Club president Bruce Heyward said Elsie still swam at 6am each day in the indoor pool at the retirement village, where she has an independent living unit.

“Elsie is considered to be the Brass Monkeys’ Queen of  Hearts and affectionately referred to as  Queen Elsie I,” he said.

“Elsie always used the beach shed with other male members rather than use the ladies facility in the pavilion above.

“She would gracefully slip in and out of her swimsuit and it was never a fuss.

“When a name for the group was canvassed it was proposed that the group be known as the Shelly Beach Brass Monkeys.

“There was an outcry of  'What about Elsie?' because of the strictly male connotations.

“The response was, ‘OK, let’s make it the Shelly Beach Brass Monkeys & Elsie'

“This name, with monkey caricatures, adorn all Brass Monkey T-shirts and sloppy joes.

“From that day, Elsie has been considered the Brass Monkey matriarch.

“Long Live our Queen.”