Kay Seccombe is a born and bred local, with a beautiful story of family, flowers and fighting cancer.
Tell us a bit about your life as a born and bred local.
I grew up on a farm in Bonville with my parents, my 2 sisters, Jean and Nancy and my brother, Bob. We all attended Bonville Primary School, including my dad, and it’s great to see the school is still going strong after so many years. It wasn’t a very big school, and it was a 4 mile walk every day from our property.
We weren’t the richest family but we got by, and we had a really great childhood.
When I turned 15, I went off to become a nurse. Back in those days I didn’t have a car, so I stayed in the nurses’ quarters. I met my husband Paul, and we got married after a few years together. In those days once you were married, you left work.
After I was married, we moved to a house in Karangi and lived on a farm. Then as the kids grew up, we moved into town, which hasn’t really changed a great deal building wise.
Years after, Paul and I parted, so I went back to work as a nurse. That was only going to be for a little bit, but 18 years on I am still going!
You have raised a pretty big family, haven’t you?
I have 2 boys, Paul and Dean and 2 girls, Lisa and Toni. My children and my grandchildren are my life; I enjoy the time I spend with them.
The girls live in Brisbane. Lisa has 2 children; Toni has a one and a half year old. The boys still live here. Dean is married with 5 kids, and Paul has 6 kids.
I have 14 grandchildren – the oldest is Nicci, who is 27 and Mark, the youngest, is one and a half. Jaimee, the third oldest, is almost 9 months pregnant, so I am almost a great grandmother too!
You have been heavily involved in a variety of different local sporting groups …
My kids were juniors for Coffs Harbour Surf Life Saving Club; they were very good at it. Both boys played soccer, but they were more involved in Rugby League. Paul and Dean both played for NSW during high school.
Paul was actually signed for the Magpies, but injured his knee close to the start of the season. Both the boys played for Coffs Comets and Orara Valley. I still love going to the games … it brings back so many exciting memories. Both of my girls played netball, and Lisa actually represented the North Coast.
You’re a nurse at Legacy Nursing Home. What has your career been like so far?
I have been a nurse for 53 years. I started at St Augustine’s and the Coffs Hospital, and I have been at Legacy Nursing Home for 18 years now. It is a wonderful place to work, and I have made many great friends working there. I would be lost without it … it’s probably the reason I am yet to retire.
You were diagnosed with and conquered lung cancer a few years ago. How did that impact your life?
I was at work, and I felt a sharp pain my chest. The boss sent me to the doctor and did an ECG, thinking it was the heart. They sent me to hospital for some tests and found the cancer.
Three days before my 60th birthday, I was sent to Brisbane for an operation, then came home and had chemo. I’ve never smoked a cigarette or had a drop of alcohol in my life, so it was a bit of a shock.
But I was never scared … I thought, “I can get through this”. I guess if you just think positive, then you are more inclined to get positive results. The doctor in Brisbane told me I would never work again, but I was back at work 3 months later.
It was picked up just early enough, and they tell me the pain I felt in my chest had nothing to do with it, so I think it was the universe’s way of telling me to go to the doctors.
You’re a bit of green thumb. What do you enjoy about your garden?
I love to potter around in the garden. My garden is fairly big and since moving to Boambee, the garden has changed several times. And I do it all myself.
Roses are my thing, but I’ve also had pansies, poppies and sweet peas – I love colour. I also have a lot of hedges and some fruit trees and vegetables.
I have always had a well maintained garden. Gardening is the love of my life. It always has been.