Rising Above

By Jordan Bailey

Tracey’s story is a tale of resilience and compassion. Her life stands as a beacon for anyone facing difficult circumstances, using her personal pain to fuel her passion for community good. From navigating the critical aftermath of a near-fatal accident that befell her young son to facing her own life-threatening health challenges amidst the solitude imposed by a global pandemic, Tracey has emerged as not just a survivor, but as a champion for the vulnerable, becoming a pillar of her community who transforms her experiences into initiatives that uplift and support those who dearly need it. Her story is not just about surviving, but thriving against the odds and inspiring everyone who meets her.

Tracey’s was irrevocably altered when her twenty-two-month-old son was severely injured in a petrol explosion, leaving seventy percent of his body covered in third degree burns. The accident marked the beginning of a gruelling medical battle that included over fifty operations in the first four months, extending into over a decade of hospital visits. Amidst this already overwhelming crisis, Tracey was also facing the tragedy of her mother’s battle with breast cancer, which would ultimately take her life. The dire situation had Tracey travelling back and forth between the two hospitals to be with her injured son and ailing mother until her mother’s passing. Compounding her trials, her younger brother would take his own life shortly after their mother’s death, adding another layer of grief onto an already overladen time. Throughout these trials, Tracey remained steadfast, her philosophy one of resilience: “Stand up and face adversity, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, I’m a big believer in that”, a belief that has steered her though her life’s darkest moments and empowered her to keep moving forward.

More recently, Tracey faced a significant health crisis herself, undergoing a major surgery that coincided with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. During this challenging time she was hospitalised and isolated, enduring the stark terror of a code blue, an medical emergency in the form of cardiac arrest, while the hospital was almost shut down, requiring a full team of nurses and doctors throughout the night. She was denied even the comforting presence of her husband, who was barred from entry due to the strict hospital conditions enforced during the pandemic. Tracey recalls being terrified at his absence, and anxious that any goodbye they might say to each other would be through the phone. Despite these frightening circumstances, Tracey’s optimism remains unshaken, persevering through the fear and uncertainty of the situation, allowing her to continue facing life with unwavering determination.

Beyond her personal battles, Tracey has channelled her experiences into a force for communal good. As a function coordinator, she has raised nearly five hundred thousand dollars for charity, directing her efforts towards supporting children with disabilities and communities in need. Her commitment and impact has not gone unnoticed, earning her the title of Citizen of the Year in 2014 as well being nominated for it four other times, a nomination for International Woman of the Year, a Community Recognition Award from the parliament of New South Wales in 2023, among numerous other accolades over the past two decades.

One of Tracey’s most notable philanthropic achievements was her organisation of a Melbourne Cup event, her twentieth annual and final such function, which aimed to fund an all-inclusive roundabout in Lennox Head for people with disabilities. The event is particularly memorable for Tracey due to the participation of Rick Price, Australian singer-songwriter of ‘Heaven Knows’ and ‘Not A Day Goes By’ and INXS manager Chris Murphy, who sadly passed away from cancer shortly after the event.

Tracey also played a pivotal role in raising over seventeen thousand dollars to save the Lennox Bowling Club from closure through a successful black-tie event. This was one of the few events that she organised for a cause other than children with disabilities or communities in need, preserving a cherished local hub and underscoring her commitment to supporting local institutions that bring people together. Additionally, her efforts facilitated the purchase of two wheelchair-accessible school buses, further enhancing the mobility and opportunities for children with disabilities. Through her tireless dedication, Tracey has improved the lives of countless individuals, leaving a lasting legacy of compassion and action.

Her life outside of these efforts is filled with simpler joys and nostalgia. Tracey reminisces about childhood hobbies like crochet and playing hopscotch- activities she feels are vanishing in today’s world. She fondly recalls the days when milkshakes were served in metal containers and fish and chips were wrapped in newspaper, small pleasures that call back to summertime days. Professionally, Tracey has dedicated herself to supporting others as a disability support worker, a role she finds profoundly fulfilling and considers akin to a hobby. Her creative outlet shines though in music; she is a songwriter and singer with a Spotify album titles ‘Flying High’, featuring country songs penned for artists performing in Tamworth, where she has won three awards. She says that she intends to branch out into other genres that she enjoys, especially rock.

Tracey’s life, punctuated by personal losses and communal victories, exemplifies the power of the human spirit and the profound impact one can have by persevering through the darkest of times. Through her tireless efforts, she has reached out and been a driving force for good in her community and an inspiration for all around her. Tracey’s story is not just a tale of survival, but a reminder to everyone that even in the depths of personal and global crises, every person has the power to rise above and make a difference.


Story of Mr. Yan

By Amy Saeki-Zhai

A Lincoln is driving up the avenue alongside the Metasequoia trees.

The gate is open now.

After two minutes, the car arrived at the front door of the mansion

Gardeners are carefully trimming the bushes.

A chauffeur opened the car door, and a man came out.

Height around 160cm, thin, dresses always very neat.

The humidity in Bangladesh is 70 percent today.

But he never forgets to wear a tie and suit.

“It’s so hot today, something to drink,” he ordered.

While his wife hung his jacket, a maid brought iced tea.

After sipping the tea, he said, “Coke, please.”

“Coke is the best fit for me!”

He sat on a couch and started preparing envelopes.

“Patel, this is for you this month”

Patel kneels and opens the envelope.

“Are you sure? Am I good enough?”

“Sure, you work hard for us, so take it.”

“Thank you so much, Master. I can’t wait to show it to my wife.”

“I can have a great New Year holiday with my children.”

Patel politely bowed to the master.

“I feel great to be nice, you know,” he said to his wife.

He had a boasting habit of exaggerating things a little bit.

But other than that, all maids would agree that he was a kind and generous master.

They could never imagine how their master would live in the States.

Everything was upside down.

A fairy tale is over.

You are no longer the Cinderella.

It’s nothing special, he murmured to himself. 

he just went back to the everyday routine that he used to be.

Yep, I’m taking a bus to go to work.

Next is “Tuscaloosa,” the bus driver shouted.

“I am getting off,” a tiny man with a tie shouted.

The driver pointed to the bus’s rear door when Mr. Yan tried to walk to the front.

Frowning his face, Mr. Yan reluctantly got off the bus from the rear door.

“Jesus!”

“I used to get off from the front door with whites.”

“Didn’t I? How come?”

Mr. Yan forgot about his sun tan in Bangladesh.

I wrote this short story based on my interview with Mr. Yan and his wife.

They lived in Alabama, in the U.S., during the height of racial segregation. He is originally from Taiwan and studied in Illinois to earn a Ph.D. in agriculture. He got a job in a fertilizer company in Alabama. So, he moved by bus from the North to the Deep South by crossing the Mason-Dixie Line, an imaginary border line dividing the North and South of the United States.

Before the Civil Rights Movement, the Jim Crow laws in the Southern states enforced strict racial segregation in public transportation, restaurants, schools, etc. Mr. Yan shared his experience of taking a bus. He also told me about his ‘golden memories’ in Bangladesh after his company transferred him there. I combined all his scattered memories into one short story here for remembrance.   


If you had one hour to spend how would you spend it?

By Amy Saeki-Zhai

“If all of us each dedicated one hour a year to volunteering, we can make a big difference in our environment,” said Lyn, an environmental volunteer from the Gold Coast.

I first met Lyn a few months back at a sea slug survey event. I had heard a rumor that I could see the colorful nudibranchs featured on the cover of National Geographic magazines only 30 minutes down the coast. I expressed my enthusiasm about seeing them, and in turn, Lyn shared with me the different scientific names of the nudibranchs and the best ways to find them. Within 20 minutes, the group found five other species, such as sea hares, anemones, and hermit crabs, endemic to the Gold Coast. Astounded by her extensive knowledge, I asked Lyn how she came to become a volunteer.

(Lyn on the right side of the photo, setting up wildlife monitoring cameras in Austinville Valley,16/8/23,photo credit to author)

Carefully setting down a massive rock she had flipped over to examine, Lyn told me that her volunteering journey had sprung from her desire to live an active and healthy lifestyle after retirement. She felt she lacked opportunities to leave her house and connect with the local community and nature. 

After seeing a post online from a council-run Landcare program, Lyn immediately signed up for a series of tree-planting events. From there, she heard about the weekly sea slug survey and felt her dream to see nudibranchs finally come true. “The moment I saw my first nudibranch was when I knew I was hooked,” said Lyn. Little did I know that she would appear at all other environmental organisations around the Gold Coast.

(My first nudibranch, 11/07/23, photo credit to author)

After my first encounter with the sea slugs and Lyn, I was inspired to check out other organizations besides Naturally GC. I participated in every activity I could, including waterbug surveying with Watergum, seagrass surveying with Ocean Connect, and a few morning bird surveys. Regardless of the location and time of the activity, Lyn was always there as well.

 At five-thirty in the morning, Lyn pulls up in her ute with a big smile.  I asked her what she thought was the best part of volunteering.

 “It is all about discovering what’s in our backyards. Through volunteering, I discovered I could identify the colorful nudibranchs on National Geographic just minutes from my house. Who would’ve thought? These species being so close to us is why we should work hard to protect the environment. We don’t want to lose them!”

We have arrived at the sandbank and are measuring the transect for data collection. Standing knee deep in the water, green seagrass rippling along her ankles with a measurement tape in one hand and clipboard in another, Lyn continues,

 “I’ve also met amazing people and connected with others through the iNaturalist community. It’s very satisfying. Volunteering takes me all over the Gold Coast from Currumbin, Springbrook, and Boonah. No matter where the activity takes me, it’s always a happy place. Volunteering has given me a purpose in life.”

(Sea grass, 14/07/23, photo credit to author)

Lyn pauses to take out her waterproof camera. She has found a Blue Velvet Headshield, a type of nudibranch. Its vibrant blue color is truly a wonder to behold.

(Blue Velvet Headshield, photo credit to Elena Prays, 14/07/23)

After the survey, we kayak back from the sandbank to the gazebo. The group unloads the data collection equipment. We find that someone accidentally took back an eel in their kayak. Smiles and laughter ring throughout the beach. Lyn turns to me with a broad smile and says, “I think I’d be a hermit if I didn’t volunteer!”. She walks back to her ute, still laughing.

 It’s been over three years since Lyn started volunteering. When I comment on how far she has come along in her journey, she replies, “It has just begun; there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done.” Nowadays, many people spend countless hours addicted to social media or gaming. These things can be addictive, but so can volunteering. Lyn says to those still considering, “Don’t wait any longer!  Volunteering is very rewarding, mentally and physically. You can make a difference with whatever activity you participate in, even if it’s just one hour a week, a month, or even a year! It will make a difference to you and the event you go to.

(Nudibranch, 28/11/23, photo credit to Lyn).


The Interesting Life of Hilda Fletcher

By Talitha Organ-Fletcher

Part 1 – Growing Up

January 29 1921, Edwin and Emelia Phillips welcomed another baby girl in their family but at the time, no one had any idea of the extraordinary life that she would go on to lead. She would travel the world, join the army, emigrate halfway across the globe and survive a direct bombing by German forces in the second world war. At 97, Hilda May Fletcher, has seen and experienced enough love, loss and adventure for two lifetimes but finds herself with a wonderful legacy and one incredible life story. Read more »


Meet Michael he is a coach for entrepreneurs

It all started with a goal to chat to entrepreneurs over 60. Then out of curiosity we decided to talk to entrepreneurs under 30. We believe these two very vast generations can learn and grow from each other.  Read more »


Meet Irene and Ian who offer peace of mind.

We are on the quest to interview business owners over the age of 60. This week we visit the Gold Coast in Australia and  chat with Irene Manson who with her partner Ian founded Care Calling Now which is a daily service offering automated calls for seniors and people of all ages who are vulnerable.  Read more »


Meet Adelle she helps people to look their absolute best!

We are on the quest to interview business owners over the age of 60. This week we head to Warner in Brisbane Australia and chat with Adelle O’Connor who is a beauty therapist, salon owner of Sasi Skin Spa and co- director of Skin at Bardon.  Read more »


Turning tragedy to Commonwealth Games Gold

By Jason Nykiel

For someone who reached the summit of domestic and international competitive swimming, broke world records, competed at two Olympics and won Commonwealth Games Gold all before her 25th birthday, Meagen Nay is incredibly modest. Read more »


Gai Williams supports newborn babies

We are on the quest to interview business owners over the age of 60. This week we head to Melbourne Australia and chat with Gai Williams founder of Willby Wind and Colic.

Read more »


Discovering retire bizzie owners around Australia

Today we chat to co-author Jill Weeks who has written Retire Bizzi as a result of travelling around Australia interviewing retirees who are running profitable hobbies or small businesses. Read more »