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Sheila Suggestion: Margaret Hemphill

In the early 1970s I used to help a lady in a wheelchair on and off a spectator ferry that watched sailing races every Saturday afternoon. Some special races we would get her up the stairs to our clubhouse for presentation and speeches. Being a kid I did not pry too much, but understood like many of that era she had contracted Polio whilst a nurse.

Margaret's passion was stereoscopic photography so apart from the bulk of carrying her wheel chair, blanket and spray jacket (if a bumpy day), she would often also be equipped with many rolls of film, special jiggs to hold two cameras, and a collection of cameras and long lenses.

Not content with her trusty Datto 120Y, controls adapted to drive, Margaret dreamed of simple transport options, to roll in and out of.

Moving onto the 1980s, while no disabled consideration, the new wider stairs made lifting a wheelchair safer for volunteer backs.

At the beginning of the 1983 sailing season, Margaret was excited and said she would miss most of the racing as she was picking up a special custom 3 wheel motorbike! In America!!!

Her normally kind soft looking expression & kind eyes now had a fiery glaze like Elizabeth Taylor.

Early 1984 a warrior bikie drove into the park, next to the Ensemble Theatre, its Harley Davidson motor echoing from the units each side. Without any outside assistance our Margaret reached behind to release the ramp and pushed a few seat belt clips, removed her helmet then with a new found freedom started roaming and saying G`Day to all.

Well she would have, but a huge crowd had her trapped as the excited by standers admired her conveyance. Margaret proudly pulled out newspapers and photos, documenting her across America from West to East skirting up along Canada then down the East coast and as a bonus was able to be in New York dockside to witness the "little country that could"... Australia win the Americas Cup to break a 132 year stranglehold by the Yanks! What's more she had known many of the team since they were kids, hanging around sailing clubs dreaming of racing one day.

Being a private person she met a sad end, discovered passed away in her unit a few years later. Many of us who always meant to drop by being too busy with young families etc.

A loss as when I tried to find out where her archives of stereoscopic photos were, it seems everything was thrown out. --Atefooterz

Thanks Atefooterz, she sounds like quite an interesting Sheila! If you'd like to create a full entry about her, with any links or resources that give a bit more info about her life, we'd love to see it. You can add an entry to Sheilapedia about Margaret by visiting this page.