Meet the Locals
09.25.2020

Meet The Locals: Betty Butterworth

Betty Butterworth is a living legend in Anglesea.

As you read on, you’ll be in awe of the amount that Betty and her late husband, Brian Butterworth, contributed to Anglesea. When I asked Betty what compelled the couple to give so much of their time, energy and money into making Anglesea what it is today, Betty answered humbly, “We’re just born to help people, aren’t we? You’ve got to be involved. Life is more meaningful if you’re involved in helping other people.”

And this inspiring 93-year-old is not stopping anytime soon.

How did you come to live in Anglesea, Betty?

I grew up on a farm about 20 miles away from Mulwala in New South Wales. When my brother went into service during the Second World War, Dad couldn’t get any labour. So when I was 17, we moved to Bendigo. It felt like a big city after growing up in the bush. It was there I met my husband, Brian, who was in the Airforce. Brian was from Geelong and prior to the War, had been in the Scouts and a Scout Leader. He’d spent a lot of time in Anglesea as it housed the Geelong district scout camp. Eventually, the camp was sold and moved to a new location. However, six blocks were sold to former Scouts who’d come back from the War. We were lucky to buy land for fifty pounds.

Before the War Brian had trained as a builder and joiner, so he built our home. We could only get a permit to build a small house as building materials were incredibly hard to get during the war and for many years afterwards. We thought we’d live in Anglesea for a couple of years then move to Geelong. But 72 years on, I’m still here, although sadly Brian has now passed away.

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Brian made such a massive contribution to building in Anglesea, didn’t he?

Brian was a visionary. He could visualise projects. But, crucially, he also had the ability to make them happen. He was a Master Builder and some of his projects in Anglesea included the Ambulance Station and the Medical Centre. Brian was also a Councillor. We had two boys, but the reason my life was so busy was due to Brian’s innovations. After rebuilding many of the buildings destroyed in the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983, Brian retired. However, he didn’t really retire! Brian designed, planned and then built Lions Village at cost, as a community project. We were both on the Lions Village committee for 20 years. I was Treasurer and Brian was President.

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Tell us about Anglesea Aged Care and how that came about?

We could see a clear need for a nursing home for our elderly residents who lived at Lions Village. We’d been trying to raise money with raffles but we couldn’t raise the kind of money we needed. I’d had a haberdashery store in Anglesea for 25 years, so I put that experience to good use and started the Anglesea Op Shop on my 70th birthday.
It grew so fast and it was a fabulous money-spinner. The whole community was involved in the fundraising either by donating, buying or volunteering at the shop. During the summertime, I’d be in the shop seven days a week. I only knew what day it was by the volunteers that came in to help! We ran it for eight years and ended up with a surplus, so we bought the facility a bus, a piano and furniture. Then the Baptist Church took it over and they’ve done a fantastic job with Seaside Seconds. It’s a wonderful asset for the town.

Betty, you’ve got a bunch of life memberships to your name. I know you’re a very self-effacing person who is reticent to talk about your achievements, but we think you deserve all the accolades bestowed upon you.

Thank you! That’s very kind. Brian and I were part of the founding members of the Anglesea Lion in 1968. However, women couldn’t be full members, so I was part of the Lion Ladies Group. Ten years later the Anglesea Lioness club formed, so we could invite other ladies who didn’t have husbands in the Lions. We’ve had a wonderful Lionesses Club ever since and I’m still going! I was given life membership. I’ve also been a member of the Red Cross and the CWA ever since I first arrived in Anglesea. Being part of these community groups made me a part of the community. It’s made my life very rich and I would recommend people to get involved. There’s no greater gift.

Thank you for your service to Anglesea, Betty. On behalf of the town, we appreciate your efforts.