11 January 2023

Anne Widdows’ love of aircraft has led to a 22-year museum volunteer journey

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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Anne Widdows standing with plane

Anne Widdows has volunteered at the Temora Aviation Museum for the past 22 years. Photo: Temora Aviation Museum.

When Anne Widdows was about 10 years old, she fell in love with aircraft instead of horses.

A Temora woman through and through, she described the planes she became fascinated with as a child as having “the most exotic colours”.

She said three planes that had been part of the Elementary Flying Training School during World War II would fly every weekend.

“They used to follow the railway line, and the line went past our farm,” Anne said.

“The planes would turn around and come back.

“We had horses back then … I fell in love with planes instead of horses.”

However, Anne had no intention of pursuing a career in the aviation industry, she just enjoyed “watching planes”.

When she moved off the farm to work in the town, she found an airport and has been visiting it ever since.

“When the museum (Temora Aviation Museum) opened up, I became a volunteer,” she said.

“I was already volunteering at different places around town before joining the museum.”

And 22 years on, Anne’s love of aircraft has not waned.

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In her decades of volunteering service, Anne has seen countless people and different types of aircraft come through the museum.

“Picture the people we used to have, we don’t have anymore, different types of planes, the millions of photos I’ve taken of planes … I wouldn’t have a clue what half of them were,” Anne said.

“When I first started, I never knew there were so many different types.”

Anne is fond of any aircraft with a “big round radial engine”.

“They just sound good … when you get a lot of them start up together, they sound like they’re purring.”

Aside from volunteering, Anne has also been working at the museum as a cleaner (presentation services assistant) for the past three years.

Anne Widdows

Anne fell in love with planes at the age of 10, watching them fly over her farm. Photo: Temora Aviation Museum.

Her days at the aviation museum can include anything from opening up in the morning to turning on all the displays, giving tours to visitors and teaching visitors about the history.

“I used to be a teacher and I like to pick on the kids and teach them.”

She says she took a while to warm up after first joining the museum and in the early days was quite shy.

“Now I talk a lot … you can’t shut me up,” Anne said.

“I enjoy talking to people and teaching them about our aircraft, and I learn just as much.”

Anne has many precious memories from her time at the museum including the occasional airborne adventure.

“Flying in the Hudson Bomber. I think we were flying to Newcastle and the Spitfire was flying with us and it was pretending to shoot at us,” she laughed.

“And then we pretended to shoot at it … and that was a bit scary.”

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Some of Anne’s fondest memories are of seeing “so many planes and to be able to sit in them”.

“I’ve met so many people and some of the most influential people … the first man to break the speed of sound and people who went to the moon. They have all come here.

“I’ve met them all and was lucky enough to get a picture with them.”

When Anne isn’t volunteering or working at the museum, she’s a photographer at Temora Greyhounds and serves as a director at the Temora Ex-Services Club.

“I’ve learnt a lot of things…I can talk about anything. They call me the walking encyclopedia some days.”

Anne’s message to young people is that ”any sort of volunteering is better than nothing”.

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