Remarkable Frank Mawer, Sydney’s oldest man, living independently at 108

Frank Mawer has celebrated a few more birthdays than his looks would suggest.

Frank Mawer has celebrated a few more birthdays than his looks would suggest.

Brian and Frank Mawer 580 2

“When I am out with my son Barry he likes to play this game where he asks strangers how old they think I am,” Frank said, chuckling. “They usually say 80-ish.” Add another 20 or more years.

Frank celebrated his 108th birthday on 15 August with a celebration involving more than 50 family and friends.

Remarkably, he continues to live in his own two-bedroom Gymea unit with the support of HammondCare At Home care staff who drop by four times a week.

Frank is almost certainly the oldest Australian not living in residential aged care. He cooks for himself, including the occasional roast dinner. Last year he flew to the Gold Coast for a holiday.

For Frank’s 108th milestone, the extended family needed to log into Zoom with Frank watching on a big screen TV due to COVID-19 restrictions. Attendees logged in from places as widespread as London, California, Alice Springs, Darwin, Melbourne and Brisbane. Together, they each had a cupcake in his honour.

Frank Mawer 108 580“It was wonderful – like they were there in the room with me,” he said. Instead of a regular birthday cake, Frank received Belgian chocolate in the shape of a wine bottle and goblet. The bottle had the label “Vintage 1912”.

Not the first pandemic for Frank

The COVID-19 restrictions are not the first time Frank’s life has been interrupted by a health pandemic. He lost his brother to the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1918-19.

Born in 1912, Frank has experienced life’s highs and lows. His mum passed away when he was a boy and he became a ward of the state. After years as a farm labourer, he eventually became a carpenter.

Frank married his sweetheart Elizabeth, an Irish immigrant, in 1939 after they met while both working at an Alexandria factory which produced overalls. Together they raised six children. The extended family has grown to 13 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and 2 great, great grandchildren.

Later in life Elizabeth became a resident at a Miranda residential aged care home and Frank visited daily. She passed away in 2011, aged 92.

Hello to the PM at church

Frank became a Christian as a young man and still worships today at Sutherland’s Horizon Church, where Prime Minister Scott Morrison also attends.

Frank said: “When he sees me he says: ‘Now Frank what you been up to lately?’.”

Frank’s son Barry, 72, said his father was a hard working dad whose family meant everything to him.

“Even today, his grandchildren love him so much they will drop everything to Zoom in for his birthday no matter where they are in the world,” Barry said.

With the birthday over for the year, Frank is looking forward to a holiday at Christmas with the extended family at the Blue Lagoon Beach Resort, Bateau Bay. Its been a holiday habit the family every Christmas for 62 years.

Barry said: “The family has been coming so long they named a street at the Blue Lagoon, Mawer Street.”

HammondCare's privilege to support

HammondCare At Home Clinical Case Manager, Narelle Wild, said it had been a privilege to work with Frank’s family to support his choice to live independently with a Level 4 Home Care Package.

“He is still going really well and is as sharp as a tack,” Narelle said.

See the St George and Sutherland Leader's coverage