Aussie battler Shirley McLaren leaves The Project stunned as she speaks about ‘Freedom Day’

Incredible Aussie veteran leaves The Project hosts stunned as she explains exactly why ‘Freedom Day’ is about FAR more than getting back to the pub – before sharing a very cheeky joke with Tommy Little

  • Lonely great-grandmother speaks about what ‘Freedom Day’ will mean to her
  • Shirley McLaren, 88 hasn’t seen her family in about 18 due to Covid restrictions
  • She was a drill sergeant in the WRAAF and awarded Order of Australia medal
  • The Project’s Tommy Little made a very cheeky joke during their interview 








An 88-year-old Aussie veteran who hasn’t seen her family in 18 long months has reminded locked down Sydneysiders that next month’s ‘Freedom Day’ is about much more than heading back to the pub – saying she is desperate for a ‘cuddle’.

Shirley McLaren has had a lonely time in her Northern Beaches retirement village, not only cut off from her loved ones but also unable to interact with her friends inside the home.

The great-grandmother, who proudly served as a drill sergeant in the Women’s Royal Australian Air Force, revealed in an emotional interview on The Project she hasn’t been able to hold her tenth great grandchild due to the restrictions.

An 88-year-old Aussie battler who hasn’t seen her family in 18-long months has reminded locked-down Sydneysiders that next month’s ‘Freedom Day’ is about much more than heading back to the pub (pictured, pubgoers on Anzac Day in Sydney)

‘I have not been able to travel to Melbourne to see my family – my adult grandchildren and their partners and great grandchildren,’ she said, admitting it has made her very lonely.

‘It’s not nice. I’ve got a new great grandson and I’ve not yet had a cuddle and all great grandmothers need cuddles.’

To make things even more difficult for residents at the ANZAC retirement village in Narrabeen, social events have been forced to cancel during the current lockdown.

‘All the lovely social activities we have in a retirement village like ukulele and dancing nights, nights for war widows and legacy ex-service women, our Friday lunches with the residents and just our general meet-and-greets where we would gather for coffee or a snack or a chat or a laugh (have stopped),’ Ms McLaren said.

Comedian Tommy Little jokingly asked if the ‘swingers nights’ evenings at the retirement village were still going ahead.

The quick-witted Order of Australia medal recipient left the panel in stitches when she replied by saying they’re not a regular feature, and that perhaps she’s in the ‘wrong retirement village’.

Comedian Tommy Little (left) jokingly asked Ms McLaren (right) if the ‘swingers nights’ nights at the retirement village were still going ahead

Ms McLaren was recognised for her service to veterans, their families and to the community at this year’s Australia Day honours.

As one of 50 women accepted into the first intake of the reformation of the WRAAF in 1951 she would go on to train 270 recruits.

The trailblazer then spent a lifetime helping to support service men and women through various charities.

Ms McLaren said she has resisted the urge to have a ‘gin and tonic’ during her lonely period in isolation but has made a few exceptions.

‘I haven’t felt the need to have alcohol except I did raise a glass when I was awarded the Order of Australia medal and when my 10th great grandchild was born,’ she told the panel.

Sydneysiders are gearing up for lockdown restrictions to be eased on October 11 when vaccination rates surpass 70 per cent (pictured, women enjoying pizza when restrictions last eased)

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is set to outline the state’s reopening timetable this week with October 11 firming as the date fully-vaccinated Sydneysiders will likely be back to the pub and visit their friends and family.

But the easing of lockdown restrictions relies on the state’s vaccination rate surpassing 70 per cent coverage.

With the long-awaited reopening now just over two weeks away, Ms McLaren made an impassioned plea to those who are yet to roll up their sleeves.

‘I really need to see my family. So I’m just hoping that people will just go out and get vaccinated,’ she said.

NSW recorded a further 961 Covid cases and nine deaths on Sunday as the state prepares to surpass the 60 per cent mark for residents who’ve been fully vaccinated.

Over 85 per cent of the population have now received their first dose.


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