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Merv Milligan was all smiles, celebrating his 80th birthday with his friends and family. Images: Lynne Mowbray

Surprise 80th for Maclean icon

Lynne Mowbray |

For many Maclean residents, Merv Milligan is a local icon around the town. He is a small man with a huge heart and sunny disposition. His cheery smile and wave and friendly g’day, has brightened up many a day over the years.

Merv’s very good friend Michelle MacLeod of Maclean, organised a surprise party on Sunday at the Maclean Services Club for him, with around 70 – 80 of his friends and family, to help Merv celebrate his 80th birthday (which was on Monday 3 June).

Merv’s niece Judy Pereira (nee Milligan) of Ulmarra said that Merv was raised out at Kungala before they moved to Armidale Street, in South Grafton, where the Good Intent shopping centre is now.

“After that they moved to Archer Street in Grafton, before Merv moved down to Maclean in the early 1980’s.

“In his younger days Merv lived with his mother and brother Fredrick.

“Mervyn used to be the best cook and he made the loveliest afternoon teas and they had ‘cuppatea’ all day.

“He used to polish the floors and polish the front of the fridge – it was so clean you could see your reflection in it. He was an immaculately clean house person and always dressed immaculately as well.

“Since moving to Maclean, he has become a well known personality around the town.

“No matter where you go, everyone knows Merv,” she said.

Michelle shared some of Merv’s community involvement over the years, to help describe the sense of humour and character, behind this much loved character.

“For many years, Merv was heavily involved in the Lower Clarence Magpies football Club and was known as ‘Merv the Magpie, Milligan’,” Michelle said.

“He was also a Cane Harvest Queen, at one stage; a fun one, dressed up on one of the floats during the parade down the main street, (when the Cane Harvest Festival was held annually in Maclean). This is why he’s such a legend.

“Merv has never worked as he has always been on an invalid disability pension. However he loved mowing lawns and gardening and he did some cleaning for some lovely old people, who have now passed away. He also helped to rare a lot of children.

“Over the year’s he helped out in some of the local businesses; David Towell, in the butchers and Ross McPherson and others – he loved to help out and they loved him too. They are all here today (to help him celebrate his birthday).

“He’s just an amazing little man; he really is – he’s gorgeous.

“For the last six months Merv has resided at Mareeba Aged Care in Maclean and he’s taken over!

“He calls himself the ‘Mayor of Mareeba’. He’s just the life of the party down there and everybody loves him.

“He’s the most generous, kind person,” she said.

Merv said that he wanted to thank everyone who attended his surprise party on Sunday.

“It was a wonderful sight,” said a humbled Merv.

“I didn’t know about this (birthday) surprise.

“I never thought I had so many friends; but I will go to heaven now,” he said.

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