90 years young: Former prisoner of war's survival story
CALOUNDRA'S Terri Stannard survived three years of near starvation as a prisoner of war in WWII, single-handedly raised nine children and spent a career educating the masses.
Those who know her say she's made of tougher stuff than most.
A life which saw her live in four continents, Mrs Stannard approached her 90th birthday in March with minimal fuss, surrounded by 200 loved ones.
She said it had been an "interesting” life, with the toughness from her teens giving her steel and determination like few women.
"I learned a lot when I was a teenager. I had to adapt and grow up fast, to look after my mother,” Mrs Stannard says looking back on the dark days of the war.
She was in Java, Indonesia, when the Japanese invaded. In just five days they came, saw and conquered.
She was separated from her brother and father, looked up in barbed wire camps.
"They knew they couldn't kill us all off, but they could starve us out, that was the intention,” she said gravely.
"Boys at 12 were taken away. My father and brother were taken away. We didn't know where they went. Anyone who made contact with us was severely punished.
"We had no radio, no books. We would just find a room, or half a room to sleep in. We were fenced off by barbed wire for three years.”
After the Japanese surrender in 1945, Mrs Stannard was reunited with her family, something she thought was impossible.
She made her way to Europe, married and had nine children. She moved to Australia as a widow, with eight of her children.
Now with 21 grandchildren and three great grandchildren - her family full of globe trotters - she has done anything but slow down.
The retired maths teacher's weekly routine includes bike riding, yoga, bridge and kayaking, often leading the pack.
"I was lucky enough to have never been injured or have an accident,” she said minutes after embarking from her kayak unassisted.
"Now I have time to myself I get to do all these things. I've made a lot of friends who are all wonderfully active and positive people.”
This week 25 of her closest friends from Suncoast Seniors Recreational Kayak Club paddled from Mooloolaba to Buddina to celebrate her milestone.
The elder statesman naturally taking the lead like she has done her whole life.
"Absolutely I am doing well, I can't believe it myself,” she said.
"I can do another 10 years easily. I am already inviting people to my next party.”