Twins celebrate milestone
LISMORE personalities Mary and Emily Betteridge celebrated their 80th birthday yesterday with family and friends.
The well-known twins have lived in the same house in South Lismore since 1934 and have fundraised more than $100,000 over 30 years for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter service.
As twin sisters, they finish each other's sentences and speak with the same conviction.
They have lived together their entire lives, and it is sometimes hard to speak to them on an individual basis.
Beyond their fundraising credentials, those who know them personally are aware of their award winning gardening skills, their love and dedication to their long lists of rescued pets and their passionate love for St George football team.
Born on April 13, 1932, in Brisbane, they came to live in Lismore with their parents and brothers in 1934. They confess to not knowing of a life outside Lismore.
"Who do you follow in rugby league?" is the first thing they ask when they meet someone, as these ladies really love their sports.
"We went to the Olympic Games in 1956 in Melbourne and the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth and we had a great time", remembers Emily.
When asked if Angel, their blind chicken is still alive, they are happy to confirm that their beloved pet is now ten years old and doing well.
Angel is only one of many animals that have been rescued and sheltered by the Betteridge sisters over decades, which has made them popular among local vets.
They are also avid gardeners, and have belonged to the Lismore Garden Club for the last 55 years. They won first prize for their well manicured garden in 2010.
Charity and community work has kept them busy and active, first helping at St Vincent's Private Hospital, and then with the Helicopter Rescue Service that has made them famous locally.
The Betteridge sisters started selling raffle tickets in 1982 after former Lismore mayor Harold Fredericks asked them to join the fundraising team for the Rescue Helicopter service, and they have never stopped.
"So many people need help, not just the patients but also the helicopter people and the support staff, why would we stop?" explains Mary.
Well known for their morning teas and their ability to fundraise while serving cake, they are quick to explain the secret of their success: "we're just ordinary people but we've been doing this with love since 1982 and we love it dearly".