Families always called Australia home
WHEN the 2012 Olympic Games begin later this year, it will be the Aussies that British ex-pats Bill and Margaret Beshaw will be cheering on, despite hailing from Hackney, where Olympic Park will be.
"No way are we cheering on Brits; we are Australian," said Bill who, along with Margaret and their daughter Joanne, will become Australian citizens on January 26.
The Beshaws arrived in Australia in 1974 - the year before Australian laws changed - so they automatically got full citizen rights - that is, they could vote, work for the government and travel with an Australian passport.
Which begs the question: why formally become a citizen if you have all the rights?
"It was one of those things we always meant to do and we knew it was the right thing to do.
"It's more a case of why we left England.
"England was a very depressing place in 1974 with rolling strikes and people put back to two or three days a week.
"There were brown-outs and black-outs that went on for months and the garbage collectors were on strike.
"We had two young daughters so we looked to where we could go."
The warm climate and an uncle and aunt living in Australia made the decision easy.
Their eldest daughter became an Australian citizen when she about 20-21 years of age and now resides in Grafton, New South Wales.
Bill was a biochemist whose university degree was recognised in Australia.
He and Margaret lived and worked in Lismore for 15 years and Sydney for 15 years before coming to Neerdie in 2006, where their younger daughter Jo lives with her husband and two children.
"This is what we wanted - to be near our grandchildren and live in a true community spirit and Neerdie has that."
Bill is now president of the Neerdie Rural Fire Brigade and the couple is also involved in various community groups and travelled extensively through the nation.
"Australia is truly a free country - more so than any other country - it's about as free as you can get."
Apart from her parents making the decision to take the citizenship oath and her sister having done it, Jo really wanted to be able to vote, so on January 26 she too will become an Australian citizen.
"I was almost five when we came to Australia," she said. "I remember the trip - two planes and a boat but Australia is all I know.
"I did my schooling here and I married an Australian. If I went to England, I wouldn't be going home. Australia is home."
Unlike her parents, Jo had to sit a multiple choice citizen test at Kawana and go through the interview process before the January 26 ceremony that will make it official.