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March 28, 2021

Neighbours Denise and Lilian

For Denise and Lilian their community housing complex isn’t just a neighbourhood – it’s more like family.

The pair met about 30 years ago soon after Denise moved in across from Lilian.

“I knew her son first then I met Lilian. Our houses are all pretty close to each other and it has always been good to have each other.”

Denise said Lilian had become “a second mum” to her.

“My mum passed away 28 years ago so she has become a bit of a mum figure for me,” Denise, who was one of the State’s first female apprentice jockeys said.

“Lilian is a dress maker so that’s come in very handy. I remember when my son made his first communion, she took up his trousers for me and presses everything so nicely. Lilian also drives and I don’t and she’s so generous with taking me places when I need it.”

Meantime, when Lilian goes away, Denise waters her garden and collects her mail.

“Her son passed away a few years ago,” Denise explains. “He loved flame trees. All of a sudden, not long after he died, this flame tree started growing in her garden, out of nowhere. When she was away recently, I made a plaque with his name on and put it under the tree so it was there when she got back. I think she likes it.”

Lilian loves it. In fact, she said it was gestures like that which made their neighbourhood special.

“I run a few errands for those who can’t get out and just to bits and pieces for people,” Lilian said.

“Most people are on their own in the complex so when COVID happened, it was really difficult for people. When we were isolated in our places we could phone each other or check in with a text which was comforting.

“When I couldn’t see my grandchildren due to the restrictions it was the worst thing. One day I was really upset about it and told one of my neighbours. We had a cuppa out in the garden and I felt better.”

Both Denise and Lilian are also extremely active as volunteers in the wider community. Lilian volunteers sewing and making costumes for schools while Denise manages the local tool library – a collaboration between Junction and MarionLife Community Services. The duo also are well known and appreciated across their neighbourhood for organising annual Christmas parties.