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Eric Shackle Writes: World's Favourite Gramdmother

"It’s almost five years since my friend Olive Riley, “the world’s oldest blogger”, died, at the age of 109, in the community hospital in Woy Woy, a small town on the Central Coast, 50 miles (80km) north of Sydney, Australia.'' writes veteran journalist Eric Shackle.

It’s almost five years since my friend Olive Riley, “the world’s oldest blogger”, died, at the age of 109, in the community hospital in Woy Woy, a small town on the Central Coast, 50 miles (80km) north of Sydney, Australia.

I first met her because she was in the same building as my ailing wife. There too I first met international film maker Mike Rubbo, who had made an hour-long film about her. He too visited her at the aged care centre and shot many short films about her. You can view some of them here:

Olive sings “Pack Up Your Troubles” : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7mTQQpTPGqA

And “Waltzing Matilda”: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pc-ARYb6mZE

The Olive Riley saga began when I wrote about her in a story published by two online magazines: OhmyNews in Seoul, South Korea and Open Writing in the UK. Within days, the story was translated into a dozen languages, and published in hundreds of newspapers and magazines around the world.

In Australia, our national broadcaster, the ABC, sent a reporter and sound crew from Sydney to telecast her 108th birthday party. The nursing home supplied a decorated cake and one of her friends sent along a troupe of dancing girls. Olive was delighted.

Almost overnight she became the world’s favourite grandmother. She received so many email messages that it was impossible to reply to them. I read dozens of them to her in her hospital room. She was surprised that so many had read her blog (she called it her slob).

"This might be the new star of the internet," Jean-François Berthet, who lives in Paris, wrote in his blog, 365 Days. "Her name is Olive, she is Australian and she has a blog where with the help of Mike, she tells us of her adventures.

"With 2 posts, her blog is only 4 days old and already hitting the headlines. What’s so special about this blog? Nothing. Except that Olive Riley was born two centuries ago, on October, 20th, 1899. By the time of Queen Victoria.

"Olive is 107. She swims. She drinks Shandy (beer and lemonade). She has to wear a bell at night so her great grand children know when she wakes up and keep her from falling, but she puts a sock in the bell not to wake anyone. "Isn’t life wonderful? Thank you Olive."

Olive's first post, called The Life of Riley attracted a flood of congratulatory messages from all over the world. The first comments were:

Beautiful to see you with 107 years on internet. It's a pleasure and I hope many people on your blog. kisses from Sicily (Italia ).-- Maria Grazia.

Wow, you are an amazing lady! I am excited to be coming in on the beginning of your journal. Looking forward to so many wonderful stories I know you have to tell. My husband and I talk of visiting Australia one day. We think it is an amazing place. -- Kelly Corley.

Hello, Beautiful Lady, I was just passing by to say hello! Greetings from Belgium.
-- Charlesi.

I agree with Kelly, you are truly an amazing lady. I will also be looking forward to your stories on your blog. Keep up the good work Olive.
-- Markiss.

Wow, this is by far the best blog ever. Keep it up. Truly Amazing. -- Konstant.

Whaoh! Amazing! You’re the grand mother of all the bloggers in the world! Welcome! I put your blog in my favorites and I hope you’ll give us some news frequently…Greetings from France.
-- Antoinweb.

A few hours after Olive launched her blog, fellow blogger Alfredo Ascanio Lugar, in Caracas, Venezuela, liked it so much that he translated it into Spanish:

martes, febrero 20, 2007
El Blog de Olive Riley
El enlace de arriba es el Blog de la Señora Olive Riley de 107 años con su residencia en Australia.

Olive was born in Broken Hill in 1899, when Sydney was the capital of the British colony of New South Wales, ruled from London by an aged Queen Victoria. Australia did not exist as a nation until January 1, 1901, when the separate colonies united to form a Federation.

Physically frail but mentally alert, Olive says she was twice married, raised her three children on her own, survived two world wars and the Great Depression of the 1930s, and has worked as a barmaid and accountant.

First news of Olive's blog was published by OhmyNewsInternational, a citizen reporters' newszine published in Seoul, South Korea. The story, headed "107-year-old is world's oldest blogger," is on the Internet.

When Olive died, aged 109, on October 12, 2008, thousands of blogger around the world mourned her passing.

It was later discovered that a United States blogger, Ruth Hamilton. of Orlando, Florida, was a few months plder than Olive Riley but she did not achieve world fame.

Mike Rubbo's film, "All About Olive":

Sydney Daily Telegraph story: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/archive/national-old/granny-107-takes-web-by-storm/story-e6freuzr-1111114303584


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