Mercy Place Mandurah resident to spend Mother’s Day in loving company

Frances Russell (centre) with daughters Francine Jacobs and Gina Couanis.
Frances Russell (centre) with daughters Francine Jacobs and Gina Couanis.

GREAT grandmother and one of the oldest residents at aged care home Mercy Place Mandurah, Frances Russell, will be spending Mother’s Day in good company.

The 90-year-old will be celebrating motherhood along with three generations of family – her four living children and their partners, her 11 grandchildren and 18 grand children (with one more on the way).

And when it comes to catching up with her 50 plus family (including partners) over a Sunday afternoon picnic, the matriarch is never short of tales to tell.

Born in Subiaco in July 1927, she was attracted to the ocean at a young age, meeting her future husband Graham at North Cottesloe Beach, where he reportedly threw an apple core at her and told her she had skinny legs.

The rest, as they say, is history and the couple were married for 65 year s and shared a passion for swimming and the ocean during that time – both were heavily involved in the North Cottesloe Surf Club for more than 60 years and were regular attendees at the annual Australian Surf Life Saving Championships.

When she was in her early-40s, Frances trained to be a swimming instructor and over more than 25 years, taught children how to swim from as far afield as Subiaco to Mandurah, North Cottesloe to Fremantle and Innaloo to Rottnest.

Daughter Francine Jacobs said the family always treasured spending time with Frances, who she described as a true matriarch of the family and who has lived in Mandurah for 20 years.

“It’s wonderful to have mum around, she is the oldest surviving member of our family and she has contributed so much to the Perth community during her lifetime,’’ she said.

“She has taught thousands of young West Australians to swim, including migrant children at Fairbridge Farm where there was never the luxury of a pool just a pretty muddy river creek.

“Nonetheless she made learning to swim incredibly fun and the children loved her.”

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