The South Coast has lost a beautiful community member in the passing of Violet (Vi) Campbell Merrett.
She passed away after a stroke on Saturday, August 19. Her life will be celebrated at the Broulee Memorial Gardens Chapel at 11am on Monday, August 28.
If you live in "the Bay", then you have probably met the amazing Vi Merrett. At 93 years young, she lived a long, interesting and exciting life.
Vi was a Glasgow lassie, born in June 1930 during the Great Depression. Her father David Campbell, suffered the humiliation of being "out of work", like thousands of others during that time.
To survive, her Dad would have to queue, cap in hand, for a dole handout and each dole was worked out on the number of children that you had.
David and Annie had six children, however only Violet and her elder sister Sarah (Sadie) survived infancy.
There was mass unemployment in Scotland and many people from the working class lived in poverty and in poor housing. Vi's mother was cleaning a schoolroom to earn two shillings and sixpence.
The day Vi was born, Annie was walking past a hospital when her pains started and in she went. Vi arrived quickly and was named after nurse who delivered her: "Violet".
In 1939, war broke out in Europe. Scotland was of grave strategic importance during the war because of its geographical position.
Glasgow's importance attracted the enemy's attention many times, with the city and its hinterland being heavily raided by the Luftwaffe. These included the infamous raid at Clydebank, now known as the "Clydebank Blitz" in March 1941 which killed over 500 people.
Violet remembered one particular night when her family decided they would stay at home in the comfort of their warm beds instead of going to the fallout shelter.
This proved to be a bad idea as the Luftwaffe rained down their bombs. Violet's dad scooped her up in her eiderdown and they ran through the streets looking for an air raid shelter.
They spent the night in a cold storage building. Vi kept asking, "What are those lights, Daddy?"
They were the search lights, frantically tracking the enemy in the sky.
Vi distinctly remembered her dad being hit in the neck that night by flying glass. The next morning, their home was still standing but every glass window had been smashed from the force of the bombs.
Her best childhood memories were with her mum and dad going to the park on the tramcar, Saturday penny movies, donkey rides at the huge Glasgow Green and sailing toy boats on the lake.
She said her parents were "lovely" and did their best for their children.
Violet completed her schooling at the Scotland Street School and at 14, she began training as a dressmaker.
Apparently, Vi has always been a "social butterfly" because it was during a night out at the Locarno Ballroom that she met her first husband Frank Lovatt.
Frank was, according to Vi, a "great dancer" and swept her off her feet!
They married in 1953 and had three children, Brian, Viviane and Frazer. Vi's daughter Viviane is now a well-known member of the Batemans Bay community.
Frank wanted to migrate to Australia, while Vi, not wanting to leave her mum behind, was not as keen but in those days, "you did as you were told by your husband", said Vi.
Frank worked for Rolls Royce while they lived in Scotland and upon arriving in Australia, he began working for the Commonwealth Aircraft Company at Fishermens Bend in Melbourne. They made their first home at Glen Waverley and they soon adapted to the Aussie lifestyle.
Unfortunately, after her daughter Viviane married and her son Brian moved overseas, Frank and Vi grew apart and decided to divorce.
Some time later, Vi attended a barbecue at Hastings and met a "boy from the Gong", Colin Merrett. They married in August 1979.
On the way through Batemans Bay on a business trip in 1980, Vi and Colin stopped off at "The Peppercorn" for a coffee. Colin stretched back and admired the view from the promenade, saying to Vi, "Look how beautiful it is here!"
He decided to head to the real estate office. They moved to Batemans Bay in 1980 and purchased a block of flats in Surf Beach.
Soon after, the iconic Birdland Animal Park on Beach Road hit the market and Colin quickly snapped it up. Together, he and Vi improved the popular tourist venue, renovating new gardens, adding a new sound system and constructing animal displays.
One of the displays was a giant diamond python and by great misfortune, Vi who was terrified of snakes, was left to do the demonstration on one particular day. She quickly unloaded the snake off onto a large male member of the audience.
In 1986, they began searching for another venture and stumbled across Funland at Ulladulla.
They moved to White Sands Place in 1988 and held many fantastic
From their home at White Sands Place in Surf Beach, Vi and Colin enjoyed throwing parties and inviting friends.
Vi became an Australian citizen on Australia Day in 1988.
Colin and Vi also travelled extensively and in 1994 whilst travelling on the Queen Elizabeth 2, they met Rod Stewart as he was travelling from New York to Southampton with his then wife, New Zealander Rachel Hunter.
Apparently, Rod heard Colin's hearty Aussie accent and sought him out. Sadly, Colin passed away in 2003.
Vi loved to travel and always wanted to see Uluru which she did with daughter Vivian, who was usually with her on her many adventures.
Vi moved from Surf Beach to Cooinda in 2009 where she happily lived for the last 14 years.
Following the passing of her beloved Colin, Vi credited her continued enjoyment of life to an invitation from Jenny Scott to join the Batemans Bay Friendship group, a group who have supported her through happy, sad and anxious times for the past 20 years.
Her happiest memories were of time spent with her four grand children and eight great grand children.
When asked what advice she would give to people, Vi said: "Enjoy every day and remember that family is the foundation."
The Batemans Bay community will miss her happy face.
Vale Violet Campbell Merrett.