“I was born in Wallaroo on the Yorke Peninsula and I spent my childhood on our farm at Bute. I came over here to stay with a girlfriend when I was in year 11 and we went to the pub for tea. Simon had just cut his hand and wrapped a dusty pair of Chillers’ jocks around it. He arrived at the pub because they thought they’d have a beer before they got it stitched up at the hospital, and that was the first time I met him. What a first impression! I finished school at Kadina and then I was coming to help Mum and Dad move to KI, then I was leaving, and I am still here 35 years later!
I was moving to Adelaide, to the big smoke and I’d actually started to apply to get into the police force. It just appealed to me. I was partway through that process, a physical and mental assessment, while I had been volunteering at the school here, as well as working at Seddon Motors, as well as cleaning houses and shed handing. I was here, I needed a job and money to help with the move to Adelaide. One day, Max Smith, who was the principal at the time, announced at an assembly that I had a full-time job. He didn’t ask me, he just said that that was what’s happening. Then I suddenly had to decide; I had a full-time job offer there or to continue the police force route. A girlfriend was actually the stage ahead of me in the force process and told me the next stage is where they show you this horrendous footage of car accidents and stuff like that. I thought, working with live children or scraping them off the road—I think I’ll take the live ones. So, decision made.
When I first started at the school, I was only 17. I have worked everywhere, in the classroom, outdoor ed, specialist math and English, one-on-one mentoring, and actually only been in the front office for eight years now. I love my job.
Shortly after I met Simon again, he was fairly insistent on turning up to places where I turned up and was a bit more charming this time. Next thing you know, it’s 1986, I’ve got a job and a boyfriend. When I first turned up here, I went to Netball Practice at Parndana and met Jenny Cox who was also new. They had the netball AGM and looked at Jenny and said, ‘How about you become the president?’ and she sort of looked at me and said ‘I’ll be president if Madelyn is secretary.’ I’d never even been to a meeting before, let alone be the secretary. But I went ‘ok’, and we were told that the next week we had to go to an Association meeting at American River. I’d never even been to American River! I can still remember that night, sitting there and thinking ‘what the hell did we get ourselves into?’ That was where the volunteering started and I stayed secretary the year after that too. It was good in the end; you meet new people, learn new jobs, new responsibilities, new skills.
It’s always said that everyone is good at something but I haven’t quite figured out what that is for me yet, I just keep trying everything.
I had no idea about the citizen of the year nomination. I felt embarrassed. I just go about life and do stuff and don’t expect anybody to take much notice’. I’d rather just quietly keep going along. It’s a great talking point in our community, they say ‘do we need to curtsy or bow, where is your tiara?’, everyone is very cheeky!
I don’t get too emotional usually but I got emotional. It is an honour.”