Farewell Emily, Lismore's kind-hearted 'mother figure'
NOT very many church services start with a helicopter flying over, but it's fitting in the case of Lismore stalwart Emily Betteridge.
Friends and family gathered at St. Andrew's Anglican Church in Lismore yesterday to honour Emily, "a woman content with life" who passed away last Wednesday aged 86.
She was a "dignified, kind-hearted and respectable woman", a St George supporter, Neil Diamond fan, Lismore Garden Club enthusiast and had "endless passion" for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, for which she was a long-time volunteer.
During her eulogy she was also described as a life-long "staunch royalist", who often let the young monarch know what she was up to.
Recognised by friends during her funeral, it's challenging to talk about Emily without her twin sister Mary, whom she always lived with.
The twins started raising funds to get a rescue helicopter established in Lismore in 1982.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew recalled the first raffle the twins ran - a crochet blanket that raised $56, and was "the start of many fantastic donations, raffles, time and friendship that she gave for the last 34 years".
"It wasn't just about the many raffles in the streets of Lismore, or the time Emily put in, or the money that was raised, it was the small things she and Mary did behind the scenes that left a mark on all the staff and crew at the helicopter base.
"On each Christmas day the duty crew would be at the base away from their families and each year without fail Emily and Mary would turn up with a hamper for the crew.
"It's also been clear to everyone involved in the rescue helicopter that we had two additional mother figures always keeping an eye on us."
The team recalled taking Emily and Mary on a helicopter joy flight on their 80th birthdays, a true highlight of their time with the rescue chopper.
In 1989, both Emily and Mary received Lismore Citizen Of The Year Award.
A close friend and neighbour said Emily "had the ability to see needs and wishes in people and then acted to give people what they wanted".
She said the closeness of the twins was "legendary" - like saying the same thing at the same time, finishing each others sentences, singing the same tunes when one was in the house and the other in the garden.
"Unknowingly they often used to give each other the same birthday presents - they each gave each other a sewing machine for their 21st," she said.
"Emily had an abundance of something you cannot buy - excitement and passion...(she) wrapped it up and gave it to others."
Emily, you will be missed.