Talking to Anne and Ian Evans, two clear truths become evident within seconds.
The first is that they love Forster; its people, its weather, its community, and the other is that they are blissfully happy and grateful people, and, after a life as packed with action, family, friends and giving as theirs has been, it’s easy to see why.
There wouldn’t be many in the Great Lakes community who have not encountered soft-spoken, generous Anne or enthusiastic Ian who lives at a pace of 200km an hour, after all, the pair have been involved in just about every community group and charity in Forster, but how did the Tamworth born and raised duo get here?
“It was when Anne got the job as deputy principal at Forster Public School,” Ian explained.
“Right after that the Maitland Diocese called Ian and said there was a position here for him too, after the Armidale Diocese told them he was moving down this way, so he got a job at St Clares, and we moved here in 2004,” finished Anne.
And what a 14 years it has been for childhood sweethearts Anne and Ian, who have always been enthusiastic participants in community causes, charities and kids sports; an interest that didn’t change when they moved, despite the fact their children had all grown up.
“From back when Ian was school captain and I was a prefect, being involved in the community is just something we’ve always enjoyed,” Anne explained.
“When we moved here we decided we wanted to be involved with girls touch, it’s something we’ve always done together.
“We did that for 12 years and the Forster Tuncurry Touch Association awarded us with life membership.”
“We were coaching, but we didn’t have any kids playing in the team,” Ian added, “we just enjoyed doing it together, and we had success coaching in Tamworth.
“In our street we were surrounded by people on the executive of the local touch association, so it was really meant to be.”
Their tireless sporting commitments are far from the only contribution to the Great Lakes community, and the fact that Ian has recently retired from work has done nothing to slow him down, if anything, he’s busier than ever!
“We’ve also been involved with the surf club, in 15 years on patrol I’ve saved one girl and one hat,” laughed Ian.
“All the time we just say how fortunate we’ve been in life; growing up and now, we’ve both loved our jobs,” Anne said, “and since we moved we’ve loved Forster, the people are just great.
“We have a group of friends we go out with every Friday for dinner. We have visitors drive across the bridge and their jaws just drop, they can’t believe how beautiful it is, and it suits us perfectly.”
“It suits us because Anne hates the cold and I hate the heat, and here it never gets hot or cold,” finished Ian, “the water is always warm, the coldest we have been swimming in is 17 degrees.”
Together Anne and Ian make the perfect team, and, Ian affirms, it has always been that way.
“We were always mates, I didn’t mean to marry her… we were good mates!” he laughed.
“Then one day a mate borrowed my car and $20 to take her out and I said; “hmm, I don’t think I like this” and that’s when I realised my feelings had changed.
“I ended up marrying my friend and now I’ve still got my best mate!”
“We met when I was in Ian’s sister’s class, when I was about 15,” Anne added, “and she said “oh here comes my dorky brother,” and I went “dorky? He’s gorgeous!” then we became friends, and it grew from there.”
Early on in their relationship, Anne and Ian discovered the Great Lakes when their best friends moved down this way, and it became a regular holiday spot.
“We were visiting more and more often, staying with our friends in this fibro shack at Blueys for about 30 years, then it was suddenly the right time to make the move permanent, so we did.” Ian said.
“It’s not just the area we love, it’s the people,” Anne added.
“We have friends and family here, and the staff at both out schools have been amazing. For anyone who is fortunate enough to live in this area, it is just just a beautiful place.”
With plenty of plans to continue travelling the world, Anne and Ian aren’t ready to slow down just yet, but are confident they have found their forever home in the Great Lakes.
“I really couldn’t imagine two people who have had better lives than us,” Ian said, “we have just been really really blessed with our health, family, friends and our kids. We’ve been truly fortunate.”