MEMORIES: Daphne Hill with her 2000 Olympic torch in a case made by the Grafton Mens Shed. Photo: Adam Hourigan
MEMORIES: Daphne Hill with her 2000 Olympic torch in a case made by the Grafton Mens Shed. Photo: Adam Hourigan

Remembering an old flame on olympic walk anniversary

THERE are two reasons August 24 will always be memorable for Grafton woman Daphne Hill.

First, because it marks the day in 1946 she married her late husband and love of her life Sid.

The second reason she is reminded of every time she looks at the wall of her room in Doherty Villa.

Framed in a solid wooden case, taking pride of place next to a canvas photo of her 19 great-grandchildren, is the Olympic torch Mrs Hill carried through South Grafton in 2000, at the age of 78.

It was an honour she didn't think she would get, after she turned down the offer of a nomination by St Matthews Church in South Grafton.

"Judie Wood came to me one morning and said Daphne we'd like to nominate you to carry the torch," she said.

"When she asked me I said I don't think I can do it, my knee is so sore."

But once she told her granddaughter Cheree about the offer, there was no backing out.

"She said 'Nan, you must nominate', so I did."

Knowing that she would have to complete her part of the torch relay in a certain time, Mrs Hill started training, walking the distance of the Grafton Bridge and back each morning.

"I loved walking, my sister-in-law used to walk a lot," she said.

"When I was younger I climbed Ayers Rock twice and walked around it once."

On the day of the relay, the Olympic flame came by car from Ulmarra, she recalled, before she took over at Washpool Rd in South Grafton and carried it through to Alipou Creek.

And the funny thing was, her knee didn't bother her at all.

"All of my neighbours, family were there - my granddaughter came all the way from Canberra - and at every stage I had one of my grandchildren walking with me," she said.

"That day was mine and my late husband's wedding anniversary and the chap that had the South Grafton petrol station then, he made a real fuss. He even gave us a gift, a pot plant."

Since then, the Olympic torch she carried has always been with the 93-year-old, perched precariously in a corner or wherever else it would fit.

"When I moved to Doherty Villa (recently), my son-in-law said he wouldn't like to see it sitting on the floor," she said.

He organised for the Grafton Men's Shed to make a wooden display case for the Olympic torch, which it now sits in proudly, complete with a carved plaque. Mrs Hill thanked the men involved in making it happen, giving her a lasting reminder of that special day.

"I'm just so pleased my granddaughter said you must nominate," she said.



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