Judith Wotherspoon

To Roy, Dylan, Serena, Anne, Bob, family and friends in Singapore and all around the world,

What a life to celebrate!  I wish I could send photos but unfortunately they are in storage in Adelaide and I am in Queensland.  There are some great ones. I wonder if Roy remembers Clem, Heather and I mimicing frogs around the pool at Mandorah, across the harbour from Darwin.  There is one of Heather sitting a very young Dylan on my motor scooter at North Haven, another of them entertaining friends of mine, one from Thailand and one from China. They were visiting Adelaide during a break from study in Australia.  Lots but I won’t go on.

Heather was an outstanding, vital, warm, positive, cheerful, imaginative, resourceful, quirky, fun woman with a responsible and optimistic approach to life and a fantastic sense of humour.  Roy was so right in his loving eulogy for her when he said “she didn’t wait for happiness to descend on her – she made it happen”.  For her grieving parents she was a daughter to be very proud of, a very special person.

We are all still reeling from the shock.  It is hard to speak of her in the past tense.  She and Roy developed an unconventional and therefore unique and enviable relationship together.  Theirs was a relationship born of the interaction of two very special people.  To speak of them as individuals is in a way to miss the point, although they were and are both strong, and independent individuals.

I first met Heather 22 years ago when we shared an open plan office with several others at what had  just become  Darwin Institute of Technology, now Charles Darwin University.  Roy was working at Royal Darwin Hospital.  Heather was the first appointment to tertiary childcare education in the NT.   She was managing that minefield brilliantly.  I was struggling with starting the first two post registration tertiary education programs for nurses and couldn’t help but be impressed by her good humour and her thoughtful approach to problem solving. We quickly became friends.  The Adelaide connection helped to cement that friendship despite our age differences.

Roy, I recall, decided that Darwin friends should be treated to wonderful Yum Cha for Sunday breakfast.  When we arrived he was on the phone to his mother for the recipes.  Heather was cool and did not interfere. I forget what we ate.  No doubt we didn’t go hungry.

I’ve lost touch with Jacquie Graham but she and Heather climbed Mt Kinabalu together.

When the house at North Haven was being painted, Heather and Roy the demon painter recruited even me, the worst painter imaginable to paint one of their interior doors.  Somehow it stuck in his mind.  It is what he always recalls in relation to me.

Heather arranged a very memorable 40th birthday party for Roy.  It was an alfresco concert of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.  There was so much to do to bring it off but with her usual cool aplomb Heather sailed through.

There were lots of meetings on the beach at Tennyson and breakfasts at Grange Jetty Kiosk too.  Such happy times.  Heather always had a unique and valuable perspective.

My most recent memory was in January of this year.  I came to south east Queensland and to Nambour while Heather was here staying in her parents almost empty house as she took it through the sale process.  How pleased I am now to have that memory of swimming in the pool together, spending time here at my friend Anne’s shed, sharing life experiences and this glorious landscape.

What a tragedy for the world.  Both on a personal and a more public sense, to be deprived of talent such as that which Heather offered is a tragedy indeed for me.  How much more so for Roy, Dylan and her family.

I send warm fuzzies, group hugs and the offer of any support I can give.

Much Love,
Judith Wotherspoon