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Orange's first Covid vaccine recipient Marie McMullen celebrates 100th

REMARKABLE: Marie McMullen with her letter from the Queen and her sons, John and Peter Speers, at her 100th birthday celebration on Saturday. PHOTO: JUDE KEOGH
REMARKABLE: Marie McMullen with her letter from the Queen and her sons, John and Peter Speers, at her 100th birthday celebration on Saturday. PHOTO: JUDE KEOGH

The day before Marie McMullen celebrated the incredible milestone of her 100th birthday, she became one of the first people vaccinated in Orange - and in fact, Australia - for COVID-19.

"It was only a prick. There were no after-effects," she said. "I think it's important for everyone to have it."

Surrounded by family and friends at Ascott Gardens on Saturday, Mrs McMullen said she never thought she would make it to 100, and expressed the regret that her late-husband Lex McMullen didn't get to see it too.

"He really did want to get to 100 but he didn't quite make it," she said, explaining that when her husband of 35 years died several years previously, he was just three months shy of becoming a centenarian himself.

At her birthday Mrs McMullen's children and grandchildren spoke with some awe of her ability to still remember so vividly her early childhood in the Central West. Born in Carcoar on March 3, 1921, Mrs McMullen had grown up in the neighbouring village of Neville before heading to Sydney for her schooling.

Reminiscing on her childhood, the great-grandmother said the thing which really stood out was how much more snow there used to be during winter.

"You don't see that now, there's not much snow at all," she said. "It was lovely, heavy snow. We could make a snowman - it was very good fun."

Mrs McMullen had married her first husband and raised all four of her children in Sydney before the opportunity arose in the late 1970s to not only return to the Blayney Shire but to go into business there.

"I came back to Blayney on my sister-in-law's invitation to go into business with her. We ran a fabric shop in Blayney," she said.

"We built up quite a nice business. I used to go down [to Sydney] on the midnight train on Friday night and do the buying [of fabrics, which involved] going around the warehouses on the Monday."

Shortly after returning home to the district, Mrs McMullen reunited with old acquaintance - Lex McMullen - and the pair fell in love. Upon their marriage, he became stepfather to her four children - Peter, Geoff, John and Jan-, and the pair moved to Orange to live.

Now a grandmother to nine and a great-grandmother to 19, Mrs McMullen said the secret to her long life was "positive thinking".

"You may as well be positive because negative thinking gets you nowhere."

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