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Belsey Thomas

as told to Linda Porter Thornton and Sandra Bailey

“I was born Belsey Julia Diss in Malmsbury, on the July 17, 1928, and grew up in Taradale in Central Victoria. The two other towns nearby are Kyneton and Castlemaine. I was the eighth child born. Sadly, the seventh child died in infancy. I was named after my mother’s best friend, but don’t know anything about the name”. The oldest recorded birth for the name Belsey in Australia is dated February 8, 1942. Less than five people have been so named between 1880 and 1942. It is believed that the name has a Greek origin and is said to mean, ‘Father’s Gift’. “I admit to being spoilt by my older brothers and sisters. My next sister, Mary, was five years older than me”. Belsey remembers being called the baby even at an older age and would be introduced with the words, “This is our baby”. Belsey did not like it one bit. The age gap between the oldest child and Belsey was a large one so for much of her childhood, Belsey and her older sister Mary were the only two children at home. “I think we had hand me down clothes”, muses Belsey. “It may have been the reason for my love of fashion”, she says. When I meet Belsey she is always smartly dressed. She shows me the outfit she wore to the Cup Day function in 2019, a fashionable skirt and top in a bold print and a stylish fascinator. She did come first in fashion awards!

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The Mallee’s Living Histories full editions are available for purchase from Princes Court Community Living Shop.