My neighbour Mrs Best

Donated by Susan Muller

In memory of Marjorie Thalia Best
11 October 1910 – 20 April 2011

This Royal Albert 'Old English Rose' bone china tea cup, saucer and plate are donated in memory of my neighbour Mrs Best. Her family gave me this tea cup when she moved into care.

Mrs Best lived next door to me for almost 40 years but it was only later in her life that we spent more time together. I was concerned about her living by herself and would frequently pop in to see her.

Invariably, I would be offered tea and we would sit together in her kitchen drinking tea from this cup or another from her Royal Albert collection. It was at this time that Mrs Best would tell me about her remarkable life.

As a young girl, she had a beautiful voice and after leaving Toorak College, attended the Melbourne Conservatorium. Mrs Best told how Dame Nellie Melba came to hear her class sing and disagreed with some aspect of Mrs Best's voice training. Upon hearing this, her father decided that she should leave the conservatorium!

With her lovely voice and clear diction, she then became 'Tilly' on Radio 3DB. She loved radio and enjoyed her night shifts there. It was through a co-announcer at 3DB that she met and married her first husband Bill Brogan, an industrial chemist who had come to Melbourne to set up a factory for ICI. As war loomed, he was recalled to Manchester to take charge of the munitions factory there.

During the war years, she constantly worried about the factory being an enemy target however, despite some close shaves, it was never bombed. Soon after the war started, Mrs Best trained to become a Red Cross nurse. She often spoke about going to her First Aid Post in all weathers and so saying she would cast an eye at the framed photograph of her in uniform. As her family said in her eulogy, apart from becoming a mother and grandmother, she considered this her proudest achievement.

After the war, the couple returned to Australia with their baby son. Her first husband died in 1958. She remarried and moved to Brisbane in 1963 and came to live next door. Her second husband Wally Best managed Dunlop and had been a prisoner in Changi. He was a great philanthropist and through him, she met the Queen at the time of the Commonwealth Games and when he received the CBE for his services to charity.

Mr Best died in 1994; Mrs Best continued to live in Bardon surrounded by her beloved garden, feeding the birds at her kitchen window. In 2006, she moved to care and celebrated her 100th birthday with a small bottle of the best champagne. Marjory Best died at peace on 20 April 2011. It was a privilege to know her.

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