Celebrating a century

This article has photo gallery Published on SBLT Kat Mulheron (author)

Captain Stephen Bowater (back right), and HMAS Cerberus Ship's Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer Brendan Woodsell, OAM (back left), attended Mrs Dorothy Tomlinson's (seated) 100th birthday with her family at Bays Nursing Home of Hastings, Victoria. (photo: ABIS James McDougall)
Captain Stephen Bowater (back right), and HMAS Cerberus Ship's Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer Brendan Woodsell, OAM (back left), attended Mrs Dorothy Tomlinson's (seated) 100th birthday with her family at Bays Nursing Home of Hastings, Victoria.

This year marks the Centenary of Anzac, the year of the landings at Anzac Cove that began the Gallipoli Campaign. It’s a year that Australians reflect on with a mix of pride, sorrow and respect. For Mrs Dorothy Tomlinson (nee Burgess) it’s also a year to celebrate a lifetime, as she was born on 5 February, just two months before those historical landings.

It's also not every day you’re invited to the birthday of a centenarian. When Commanding Officer HMAS Cerberus, Captain Stephen Bowater was asked to present the official birthday letter from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth to Mrs Tomlinson, there was no hesitation in accepting.  

Mrs Tomlinson, fondly known among family as 'Nanna Do', has spent much of her life helping others. She has lived through two World Wars, the Great Depression and the rise and fall of governments. She has experienced a life many of us can only know through the stories of others.

"This is Cerberus’ year of 'Family and Community' and Dorothy is a part of our community. 

"More than that, Dorothy is part of the Defence family as her late husband George ‘Murray’ Tomlinson served in the Second World War. Being here is an honour,” Captain Bowater said.

“Like many Defence people, Dorothy’s life aim has been to help others, first with her nursing, then through her involvement in community groups.”

Born in St Arnaud, Victoria, Mrs Tomlinson was one of six children; her father passed away months after her birth. Her mother remarried and she became one of 11 children and with her family’s support, Mrs Tomlinson was able to follow her dream to study nursing at the Melbourne Children’s Hospital in the 1930s. 

Her daughter, Ms Pam Sundstrom, is very proud of her mother's history and dedication to others.

“When she retired she was forever into everything; Red Cross, craft groups, she loved it all. For as long as she could manage she was always involved in her community,” Mrs Sundstrom said.

“Mum has had spots of being unwell. She had her first heart attack in her 60s. To see her reach 100 is amazing," she said.

Mrs Tomlinson reflected that her lifetime had many significant moments; she and Murray wed in a simple war-time service while he served with the Royal Australian Air Force, she spent time nursing children with polio, held a position as nanny for the Henty family (descended from the first permanent settlers in the Portland district) as well as working in aged care until she retired. A hundred years on, Mrs Tomlinson is celebrated for her commitment and her love for family and friends.

Imagery is available at the Navy Image Library http://images.navy.gov.au/S20150207