Shirleys of world get star billing

WHEN the mini-tornado struck Lennox Head in June, one of the first people on the phone to see if Shirley Whitehall was okay was a relative stranger from Tasmania, who also happened to be named Shirley.

The next was another unknown Shirley – this time checking in via email that the Whitehall family's health and home had got through the twister intact.

Apparently that's one of the perks of being named Shirley – you have a few thousand namesakes scattered around Australasia all looking out for you.

On Saturday, about 100 of them from across Australia and New Zealand all got together at the Ballina RSL Club for a knees-up to celebrate being Shirley.

Mrs Whitehall organised Saturday's gathering and said there was something special about being a Shirley.

That was shown in the longevity of Shirley Clubs. The first one formed in Western Australia in 1996 and Mrs Whitehall started the local chapter in 2004. Other ‘name' groups, such as the Narelle Club, had come and gone, but the Shirleys remain strong.

Mrs Whitehall said the group's focus was fun.

It was also fairly relaxed about membership criteria. You just needed ‘Shirley' somewhere in your name. Guests were welcome at gatherings, but would invariably be renamed ‘Shirley'.

Mrs Whitehall said the group was so popular one member had changed her name by Deed Poll to Shirley.

“She couldn't be here today. She's in Sydney taking care of her sick aunty,” she said. “We Shirleys are very caring people, we're always taking care of someone.”



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