Premier makes Maria’s 104th a forget-me-not

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Premier Dominic Perrottet went ahead and made Maria Reilly’s day - and probably her whole year. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Premier Dominic Perrottet went ahead and made Maria Reilly’s day – and probably her whole year.  Maria is pictured seated immediately to the right of the Premier. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

It doesn’t get any better than this for centenarian’s magic milestone

There are many highs and lows in the life of Dominic Perrottet … and then there’s days like this.

The Premier of NSW was told that all Matraville parishioner Maria Reilly wanted for her 104th birthday was for him to drop by … so he did.

Arriving at her doorstep last week with her favourite flowers – yellow roses – he enjoyed a piece of chocolate birthday cake and a glass of bubbles with the centenarian who said it was the happiest day of her long life that not even a letter from the Pope or the Queen could trump.

Surrounded by family, close friends and parish priest Fr John Knight, Maria beamed from ear to ear as she whispered to Mr Perrottet her secret to reaching such a grand old age and still living independently.

The cheeky birthday girl also quizzed the busy Premier on a number of issues both about how he was running the state as well as his private life, asking when he was going to have “baby number eight”, a number considered lucky for Malaysians of Chinese decent.

“When you’ve had as many birthdays as me, presents aren’t important – it’s people that make it so special and you can’t get much better than this.”

The Premier laughed and answered that his life was “pretty busy at the moment” and that number eight would have to wait.

Having her birthday wish granted, Maria beamed that Mr Perrottet was “even nicer and more handsome” in real life than on television and that her birthday could not have been better.

Her family, many of whom had flown in from overseas to celebrate the milestone, said she had not smiled so much for many, many years.

“He is so lovely, I just couldn’t believe such a busy man like the Premier would pop in and wish me happy birthday,” she gushed.

“When you’ve had as many birthdays as me, presents aren’t important – it’s people that make it so special and you can’t get much better than this.

“He is not only a good Catholic man but also very good looking, even more handsome in real life than on television.

Premier Dominic Perrottet went ahead and made Maria Reilly’s day - and probably her whole year. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Premier Dominic Perrottet went ahead and made Maria Reilly’s day – and probably her whole year. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

“It has been one of the best birthdays I can remember. I just can’t stop smiling.

“I have always been a Liberal voter and … this confirms why.”

And returning the favour, Mr Perrottet told her it had been “one of the highlights of his time as Premier”. He laughed and said it was an honour to share her birthday celebrations and a piece of cake amongst his incredibly busy schedule.

“There’s a lot of work and stress with the job but then there’s these times,” he smiled.

“When I was first elected I looked like Harry Potter … and now I look like this.

“With six girls and one boy at home, life is pretty busy but when I heard about Maria I was very happy to drop in and wish her a happy birthday.”

“After retiring, she met husband Jim Reilly while volunteering with Vinnies and they married a few years later – both aged 80 – proving you can find love at any age.”

Maria visited Australia from Malaysia more than 50 years ago to attend her daughter’s wedding and never left.

She was granted residency and employed by the Water Board where she worked for more than 40 years as the trolley tea lady, among other roles.

After retiring, she met husband Jim Reilly while volunteering with Vinnies and they married a few years later – both aged 80 – proving you can find love at any age.

A life-time member of The Castlereagh, formerly known as the Catholic Club Limited, she is very proud of her Catholic faith and attends Mass every Saturday night at St Agnes’ at Matraville.

She’s ferried there and back by fellow parishioners.

And the answer everyone wants to know about the secret of her longevity … a simple diet of mainly vegetables – and a cup of plain boiling water with every meal.