Ella and Lionel Mitchell cut the cake on their diamond wedding anniversary, 1987.
Ella and Lionel Mitchell cut the cake on their diamond wedding anniversary, 1987. Carol Everson

'Mitch' remembered for the 'twinkle in her eye'

TALKING HISTORY with Tweed Regional Museum

IN A previous Talking History column about Loder's Store at Uki, we learnt of the budding romance between shop assistant Lionel Mitchell and office worker Ella Womersley. This column, provided by the Uki and South Arm Historical Society, looks in more detail at Ella's life, and her rich contribution to the Uki community.

(Part 1: Ella the doyenne of Uki)

Part 2:

AT THE age of16, Ella started work in the office of Loder's General Store, Uki. She later recalled the hustle and bustle of the store and the local characters such as the tobacco-chewing bullockies and the local cream carriers who were regular customers.

While working at the store Ella met Lionel Mitchell.

The local gossip column of the time reported that after work, Ella and Lionel would meet and sit on the logs dumped by the bullockies.

Ella continued to work at Loders Store until 1927, when she and Lionel were married.

As a young wife and mother, Ella worked on fundraising projects at Uki to help pay for the churches, hall and school equipment.

UG-17 - Lionel Mitchell on Loder's delivery cart, C.1924.
Lionel Mitchell on Loder's delivery cart, circa 1924. Tweed Regional Museum

She dressed children for concerts, devised competitions, wrote skits involving her friends, and sold endless raffle tickets.

Ella would help out at sale times at Loder's store, and she also worked at the butcher shop doing the accounts and wrapping orders to be delivered.

She later managed the Uki bakery depot and did bookkeeping for Scholes Garage.

Ella used to say the only place they never asked her to work was the pub and she didn't know why.

Ella followed many sports and had been a keen tennis player in her youth.

US000475 - The window Display of Australian-made Akubra hats that won Loder's the 1st Prize Shield in the window dressing competition, 1926.
The window Display of Australian-made Akubra hats that won Loder's the 1st Prize Shield in the window dressing competition, 1926. Tweed Regional Museum

Cricket was one of her favourite sports and on many occasions she acted as the Official Scorer for the Tweed District Cricket Association.

Indoor bowls were played every Thursday night. The competition was fierce, despite the prize for the winner being a handkerchief.

Ella also loved playing cards - they were often played at her home with supper to follow.

Ella Mitchell, known as 'Mitch', had an enormous zest for life.

She liked people and was always interested in their stories.

It was due to Ella's interest in documenting all the happenings on the South Arm that the Uki and South Arm Historical Society began.

Ella kept her jottings and lists of cream carriers, whom she felt were very important people, as they were a lifeline for remote farms, bullockies, timber cutters, farmers and local residents.

These written records have been the foundation of Uki's recorded early history. She worked tirelessly to get the historical society up and running and was a founding member.

As well as the society, Ella was a member of more than a dozen other community groups throughout her life.

Ella died in April 2002.

In June 2011, she was honoured with a plaque in the Uki Village in remembrance of her contribution to the South Arm community.

It reads, in part: "With a twinkle in her eye and a big broad grin she gave a lifetime of service to many community groups on the South Arm”.

Ella in her winning Scottish costume at a Cudgera Fancy Dress Juvenile Ball in August 1920, aged 11. Photograph by Angus McNeil
Ella in her winning Scottish costume at a Cudgera Fancy Dress Juvenile Ball in August 1920, aged 11. Angus McNeil

* Talking History is a column supplied by the staff of the Tweed Regional Museum. It features the stories behind their rich collection.