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A tribute to...

Denise Jewell

Published: Fri 1st Jul 2022

Denise Jewell loved spending time with her extended family. She’s pictured with her great niece Ava Warby at La Hoot Cafe in Winchelsea.
Denise Jewell loved spending time with her extended family. She’s pictured with her great niece Ava Warby at La Hoot Cafe in Winchelsea.

The life of Lara's Denise Jewell, who died age 70, was celebrated at a service hosted by Kings Funerals and attended by 120 of her friends and family. Her niece Grace McNally paid tribute to her "Aunty Dee" and their special connection.

"I will miss her presence in my life. I know that I am not alone in feeling this; she left a piece of herself in the heart of each and every one of us here today," she told mourners.

With permission we share her moving tribute.

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Grace. I am Denise's niece and Goddaughter and it is my honour to remember her with you today.

Denise Ann Jewell - also known affectionately as Mum, Nan and Aunty Dee - was born to Don and Gwen Jukes on the 9th of May, 1947, in Melbourne. The eldest of the four Jukes children: a loving sister to John, Jan and Kate.

She attended Torquay Primary School and Belmont High School. During her high school years, Don and Gwen moved the family to England, their place of origin. Aunty Dee's working life began in London, where she gained employment as a secretary in a law office.

In 1965, the family returned to Torquay. Aunty Dee worked for a short while in Melbourne before returning to Geelong and working in secretarial administration for Target. Through colleagues she met, and went on to marry, Ken Jewell.

In 1976, they welcomed their son Chris - one of the greatest joys of her life.

Over the years, Aunty Dee was involved in several careers. This included completing her training as a state-enrolled nurse, where she was recognised as one of five who excelled during the 12-month course, and was then employed by the Geelong Hospital. She ran a daycare from the family home and much later in life, she achieved over 10 years of service with Ambulance Victoria as a call taker, which led into her retirement.

In her retirement Aunty Dee took up volunteering, spending time at the Winchelsea Hospital Auxiliary and Op Shop and participating in running Mainly Music at the Winchelsea Anglican Church.

Growing up, Denise Jewell attended Torquay Primary School and Belmont High School before her family moved to England.
Growing up, Denise Jewell attended Torquay Primary School and Belmont High School before her family moved to England.

Aunty Dee found love again later in life through her partner John Poulter. He introduced her to caravanning and together they enjoyed many trips around Australia. A highlight was venturing to Cape York. They also enjoyed music together and shared many laughs.

John, like all of us here today, was very fond of Aunty Dee. She felt his loss greatly when he succumbed to illness in 2014. Her love of caravanning continued and she took many trips in her petite van, 'The Little Guy'.

Aunty Dee was a kind, gentle and loving soul. She had a really special place in her heart for all animals and if there was an animal in need of a home, she was the one to take it in. Throughout her life she had many dogs: Sophie the boxer, who arrived old and deaf, Tamus and Tina, Ollie and Buddy. Also many cats: Tuppence, Rembrandt, Thelma and Louise and Penelope. There was Sue-Ellen the horse. And many, many chickens.

Aunty Dee was a passionate gardener and always had a beautiful English rose garden where ever she lived. She enjoyed tending to the garden and would often turn up with a posy in hand when visiting family or friends.

When she wasn't gardening, she could be found at the easel. As most of you know, she was an exceptional artist, with her medium of choice being oil pastel. She loved to draw landscapes, buildings, flora and fauna. Her artwork can be found in most of our family's homes and we will certainly treasure her works forever more.

She could also be found dabbling on the sewing machine or tinkering on the piano. She loved a special occasion, enjoyed dressing up and would celebrate with a glass of sparkling or wine in hand. She had a light-hearted and sometimes silly sense of humour and loved a good laugh.

Aunty Jan tells the story of the day when Denisie joined the family at Torquay front beach, looking like a model: hair beautiful, makeup on and new bathers. She then takes herself in for a swim. Mind you, the surf was huge. The next thing, after a few minutes of swimming, she is dumped by an enormous wave. In what seems like ages, she comes to the surface, struggling to stand up, looking like a drowned rat, with her hair over her face, makeup ruined and her bathers around her midriff. What a sight to behold! Over the years this has been a story retold with much laughter. Bless you Denise.

Family however, is what Aunty Dee cherished most. She loved her siblings dearly and this love extended to her nieces and nephews and in time, their children also. She was comforted in knowing that Chris had found happiness with his wife Linda. And she was extremely proud of her three grandchildren - Ana, Kaylee and Keason.

Denise Jewell (first on the left) excelled in her nursing course and went on to work at the Geelong Hospital.
Denise Jewell (first on the left) excelled in her nursing course and went on to work at the Geelong Hospital.

I've always enjoyed spending time with Aunty Dee and have many fond memories. I recall my 13th birthday when she surprised me with a mystery flight; we arrived at the airport not knowing where we were going, but we ended up in Perth for the day. We got lost navigating our way around in a hire car - we laughed so much - and enjoyed lunch in Fremantle. I'll never forget the excitement that I felt that day.

In 2012, I lived with Aunty Dee and John for a short time while I settled into work in Geelong. I enjoyed coming home and sharing a wine with her on the back porch, looking over her beautiful garden. Sometimes we would chat, others we just enjoyed the serenity together. I'll be forever grateful for this time I spent with her.

In more recent years, I have enjoyed her visits and have loved watching her light up with my own children. She was generous and always had time to get on the swing with the kids, read a book, colour in pictures, join in a dance, or simply give a hug.

In all the world, there is no heart for me like yours.

In all the world, there is no love for you like mine.

I love my Aunty Dee and I will miss her presence in my life. I know that I am not alone in feeling this; she left a piece of herself in the heart of each and every one of us here today.

On behalf of her son Chris...

I often think back to when we lived in Lara. I loved the rural lifestyle you raised me in. It was a young boy's dream to be surrounded by pets such as horses, dogs, and a cat. Your love for animals definitely rubbed off.

My fondest memory was when our horse, Sue-Ellen, got spooked when we were trying to load her into the float. I can still picture us chasing her through Lara. It only took about three hours.

Our lives were full of laughter, love and family. You made sure to show me what family values were all about, surrounded by lots of cousins to get into trouble with and aunts and uncles to rein us in.

I didn't think I was spoilt at the time, but looking back as an adult, being your only child was definitely to my advantage. We had so many great adventures together, we travelled the UK and America, and you always made sure I had the best of everything.

I'll be forever eternally grateful. I can only hope I can provide my own children with the same chances in life that you gave me.

Love you mum.

Originally published as Dear Aunty Dee how I'll miss you


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