Merv bows out with ceremony

LEONORA Godfrey was planning to become an Australian citizen three years ago but was struck down with a brain tumour before she could attend the ceremony.

Yesterday, Mrs Godfrey and her two daughters Jeliah, 11, and Jeanne, 9, were among 12 people who took part in a citizenship ceremony at Lismore Council Chambers, in what will be the last for mayor Merv King.

Mrs Godfrey said she fell in love with Australia when she first came over as a tourist from the Philippines.

She met her husband, Mark, at Twin Towns one night and fell in love with him, too, and made the move to Australia eight years ago.

“Australia is such a multicultural country,” Mrs Godfrey said.

“I love how friendly everybody is. And there is no war.

“Where I lived there are rebels fighting. There are troubles with religions, fighting between Muslims and Christians.”

She has made a successful recovery from the brain tumour, apart from losing the use of one of her vocal chords.

Before the operation she was a singer who would often perform at Filipino functions, whereas now she is only able to speak very softly.

The ceremony also included people from China, New Zealand, Canada, Britain and Sudan.

Cr King said more than 100 people from Lismore had taken the citizenship oath in the past year.

“It's always been a pleasure doing the citizenship ceremonies,” he said.

“We have a big one on Australia Day and if we get enough people we'll do a special one (like this). But sometimes I'll just do one or two people without all the pomp and ceremony.”

Cr King said he once did a citizenship ceremony for somebody who had been living in Australia for 48 years.

“I think it's important. If you live in Australia, you should be a citizen,” he said.

Asked if he would miss being a part of community events, such as the citizenship ceremony, he said: “I'll miss it. I'll miss everything I've been involved in after 13 years on council and six years as mayor.”

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