Performer Patrice Tipoki, and her 19month old daughter, Elisabeth, visited her mother Vickie Larkin at her Twin waters home.
Performer Patrice Tipoki, and her 19month old daughter, Elisabeth, visited her mother Vickie Larkin at her Twin waters home. Barry Leddicoat

Mothers are the light of our lives

“I CAN’T get by without my mum,” warned a television ad 30 years or so ago, and for three Sunshine Coast personalities, that is very true.


Performer Patrice Tipoki and her mum, Vickie

PATRICE Tipoki had more than just good genes on her side when it came to a career as a performer.

She also had her mum.

Patrice’s grandparents and parents were performers but she said she could not have made it to where she is today without her mum, Vickie.

Patrice, 27, who has performed in top Australian musical productions including Wicked and We Will Rock You, said her mum had given her and her two siblings the opportunity to pursue their musical dreams.

“Mum was always very dedicated and encouraged us in what we wanted to do,” she said.

“She was our taxi driver and our costume maker and made sure we did our practice.

“We did a lot of classes and music lessons in Brisbane when we were at high school and she was driving us down every week, and ensuring we got where we wanted to go, and we got that experience.”

Although Patrice lives in Sydney these days with her husband, Richard Arkins, and their daughter, Elisabeth, 19 months, she talks to her mum on the Sunshine Coast every day.

“My mum’s always been my best friend and it’s been nice to be able to share everything with her,” she said.

“Over the last few years, my husband’s become my best friend but mum’s still there.

“Mum and I always have to have some sort of phone plan where we can call each other for free or something like that.”

Patrice, who wore her mother’s wedding dress with minor adjustments at her own wedding, said she and her mother were very much alike, not only in looks but also in behaviour.

“I think I’m very similar to my mum,” Patrice said.

“She taught me how to sing, how to dance.

“She taught me everything and has given me such a great foundation in life.

“I catch myself either saying something or doing something, crazy things that my mother did: dancing around or making up songs.”

She said she admired her mother’s strong sense of self but that the best thing her mum had ever taught her was to be honest.

“She could always say that she could never tell a lie,” Patrice said.

“You always have to be true to yourself and everyone you come into contact with.”

Patrice is between roles but is enjoying the opportunity to spend more relaxed time with her daughter.

She and her husband hope to move to Brisbane next year and she is looking forward to seeing more of her family, particularly her mum.


Professional rugby league player Ben Ross and his mum, Jenny

AT 191cm and 110kg, Ben Ross is big and tough.

But when it comes to his mum Jenny, the South Sydney Rabbitohs prop is a softie.

Ben, who grew up on the Sunshine Coast before moving to Sydney to play first-grade rugby league, said he was who and where he was today thanks to his mum and dad David.

“My parents are the main reason I’m playing football and doing what I’m doing,” he said.

“They’ve always supported me to do what I wanted to do, and encouraged me to believe in myself.”

When a neck injury threatened to end his career, Ben’s mum and dad were on hand to nurse him through.

“After I had my surgery, they stayed down for three weeks to help look after me because my wife had to go back to work,” he said.

Although they are more than 1000km apart, Ben is in regular contact with his parents.

“I speak to my parents every second night, if not every night,” he said.

“My parents are my friends,” he said.

“My mum is my friend and I’m able to talk to her about anything.

“They give me their opinion and they allow me to make my own decisions.

“It’s always good to have someone else’s opinions, and I know they’ve got my best interests at heart.

“The way my mum thinks is the way I think.”

Ben described himself as a bit of a tearaway as a kid.

But his mum laid down the law when she had to.

“She’s a gentle, caring kind of person,” he said.

“She puts everyone else first before her, always willing to do everything for everyone else.

“I’m a bit the same.

“I worry about everyone else first.

“She’s the most amazing person in the world.

“She’s got three kids and a husband who adore her.

“She’s a lucky lady and we’re lucky to have her.”


Real estate dynamo Amber Werchon and her mum, Julie

AMBER Werchon can’t get by without her mum. Julie Werchon works with her daughter at Amber Werchon Real Estate.

Amber said her mum was behind her in everything she did.

“The things that she does for me on a daily/weekly basis are on-going and organic, but one thing is consistent: that is her unconditional support,” Amber said.

“Mum works in the business so she is a ‘super PA’, too.”

The two women see each other every day during the week, and most weekends, particularly if there is a family gathering.

Amber described her mother and herself as very close.

“She is the most important woman in my life,” she said.

But mums and daughters tend to be close in their family.

“My mum and my grandma are best friends and have an amazingly wonderful relationship,” Amber said.

“I am very close to my grandma too.

“My grandparents were around all of the time when I was growing up, and we were so close to the point that I even chose to spend my holidays there, too, cooking, doing craft, playing cards, gardening etc ... all those lovely things that I don’t have time for now but will do when our kids are old enough.

“We see them regularly still now, too, and holiday with them, too.”

Amber said it was hard to imagine a better mum than her own.

“She has done everything,” Amber said.

“Much more than what I could ever imagine any mum to give.

“She is the ultimate ‘super mum’ in every sense, but most of all, very loving.”

Amber believes she has inherited a strong work ethic, high standards, independence and a soft side from her mother, although she was inclined to take more risks and be a little more outgoing and confident.

She said her mum had taught her to always be true to others and herself, to never give up, and always to put family first.

Almost 23 weeks pregnant herself, Amber hopes to emulate her mum with her own children.

“She taught me to have independence and how to have really open communication with her,” Amber said.

“She gave me space/flexibility while making sure that I had self- respect and good values equipped to make smart decisions.

“I would be delighted if I have a similar relationship with our children and I can help them to succeed the way that my mum has assisted and supported me.

“I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without her, and that is very true: not a cliché.”

Amber is expecting life as a working mother to be challenging but exciting.

“I will learn to focus on the ‘big picture’ and finally trust I have placed myself in a position to delegate a certain amount of managerial responsibility in the business, without totally stepping away,” she said.

“However, I do believe it is a massive responsibility to bring another human life into the world and I want to ensure that my family always takes top priority.”

Man’s body left three hours before found

Man’s body left three hours before found

Man's body remained undiscovered for hours after truck crash

FATAL: Man dies in hospital following two-car crash

premium_icon FATAL: Man dies in hospital following two-car crash

A MAN has died following a two-car crash north of Coffs Harbour.

Police identify van involved in hit-and-run death

Police identify van involved in hit-and-run death

Police believe he was the victim of a hit-and-run incident