REMEMBERED: Gympie's Yve O'Brien with Lady Florence Bjelke-Petersen.
REMEMBERED: Gympie's Yve O'Brien with Lady Florence Bjelke-Petersen. Contributed

Gympie women remember Flo's inspiring presence

'I WAS 12 when I met Lady Flo,” Llew O'Brien's daughter Yve said yesterday of the woman who mentored her in her early teens.

And Tony Perrett's press secretary Kathleen Cairns recalled her six years working in the same capacity for Lady Flo.

Yve O'Brien recalled writing to Lady Flo as part of a school assignment involving "someone who inspired me.”

"I was delighted to receive her hand-written reply. She wrote that her greatest achievement as a senator was helping families.”

Mrs Cairns said politicians from all sides initially underestimated Lady Flo.

But I can remember all the Labor Party staffers lining up to get a copy of her pumpkin scone recipe.

"She was disarmingly charming, could be quick on the uptake, authentic, loyal, protective and she was no pushover.

"She had simple uncomplicated tastes and would stand her ground.

"She had an uncanny way of just knowing the simple point which could cut through on complex matters.

"She put life in perspective.

"There was a weekly afternoon tea locked in with a Hawke Labor Minister, just because she reminded him of his mother.”