Maureen crunches the numbers with magic milestone

Cumnock Public School celebrated the 90th birthday of former student Maureen Murray, who is still involved with her alma mater, writes Glenn Cullen.

08 October 2021
A woman sitting with a birthday cake outside a school gate with the children behind.
Image: School fixture: Cumnock Public School students did not let COVID get in the way of celebrating school volunteer Maureen Murray's 90th birthday.

School bag in hand and ready to take on the world, Maureen Murray first made her way through the gate of Cumnock Public School as a five-year-old in 1936.

Eighty-five years on, she can still often be found in the school grounds where she helps with everything from the ‘crunch and sip’ program to presentations and functions.

The school this week paid tribute to Maureen on her 90th birthday in recognition of her decades of selfless service.

It was a big enough occasion for Prime 7 News to come along for a slice of cake and an interview.

Asked about her thoughts on the occasion, the whip-smart nonagenarian didn’t miss a beat.

“I thought ‘oh goodness, I didn’t think I’d ever make it this far’!” she told the network.

For school principal Amanda Schulz, it wasn’t a huge surprise that Maureen was as spritely as she is.

“She’s probably a member of every organisation in Cumnock – the golf club, CWA Progress association, show society – it goes on,” she said with a chuckle.

“But everyone does that. We’re a small community and we rally around but for Maureen that service to the community is particularly outstanding.”

A photo of a photo in a book of children on their first day of school about 80 years ago.
Image: Early days: A photo of Maureen with her schoolmates and teacher in 1939.

Olivia Hogan graduated from the school seven years ago and fondly recalled Maureen being a regular fixture.

“To be at the age she is and still want to give and give and give and not ask for anything in return it’s just extraordinary,” she said.

The rural town, about 60km northwest of Orange, has a population of around 500 but the school has quite some history having first opened its doors in 1879.

Those links to the past and endearing community spirit ensure that people like Maureen are celebrated.

“Kids value what the older generation can do here; they feel really privileged,” Ms Schulz said.

“But it’s a two-way street. Maureen said she’d like to do crunch and sip until she’s 100.”

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