While 96-year-old Legacy widow Gwenyth (Gwen) Davis looked on from her front porch, 1st Intelligence Battalion soldiers donned their gloves, grabbed the pruning shears and dug in to bring her garden back to life in early April.
CAPTION: Soldiers from 1st Intelligence Battalion remove a large tree trunk as part of Legacy’s Backyard Assist program in Brisbane. Story by Captain Evita Ryan.
Working alongside Legacy staff and fellow volunteers from Rheinmetall Defence Australia, the team from 1st Intelligence Battalion relished the opportunity to step away from their desks and give back to the widow of a former serving member.
For Geospatial Intelligence Analyst Private Stephen Smith, helping out a Legacy widow was a rewarding experience.
“It’s a good way to spend a Friday morning and it’s nice to take a break from sitting at a desk in front of a computer all day,” Private Smith said.
“It’s physical work but it’s satisfying at the same time.”
Mrs Davis’s house in St Lucia, a riverside suburb of Brisbane, has been her family home for about 50 years.
Originally from Sydney, she was living in Lismore during WWII when she met her husband, who was training under the Empire Air Training Scheme at Evans Head on the NSW north coast.
“We all met our husbands at Evans Head,” Mrs Davis said.
Keen to settle close to education options and public transport, as she never learnt to drive, Mrs Davis and her husband raised their three children in the family home at St Lucia.
“I wanted to live on top of a hill after living in Lismore,” Mrs Davis said.
“We purchased the worst house in the street and I went back to work to pay for upgrades.
“It’s been a great family home.”
After her husband died, Mrs Davis’s neighbours stepped in to assist wherever they could.
“All my neighbours are wonderful,” Mrs Davis said.
“I wouldn’t be here without them but I’m also grateful to Legacy and their volunteers.”
Looking out over her garden as the army of volunteers worked to give her front and backyards a new lease on life, Mrs Davis said all the local real estate agents would probably come to visit once they saw the place.
“When I saw the skip bins arrive, I thought everyone would think that I’m moving,” she said.
“I’ll have all the real estate agents come to visit next week as they’ll probably think I’m going to sell my house.”
Legacy Backyard Assist coordinator Leanne Drake said the ADF’s support was crucial to the program.
She said Mrs Davis was one of about 16 Legatees who benefited from the Legacy Backyard Assist program each year.
“We really appreciate and count on all the help we receive from, not only our corporate sponsors, but our incredible ADF,” Ms Drake said.
“We could not do such an important thing for our widows and families without them.
“To see a widow go from not being able to cope with their gardens anymore to having the brightest smile after it has all been cleaned up is truly amazing.”