Eighty is a cakewalk for Aunty Margot

Tessa Randello

Margot Whelan is not slowing down as she approaches her 80th birthday, even baking cookies during her interview with The Express.

The well-known caterer said she has become accustomed to being affectionately referred to as ‘Aunty Margot’ to many across the Latrobe Valley.

“I am used to being Aunty Margot to everyone now, my niece was a teacher at Churchill and rang me up for a recipe for cream puffs and she said to her form ‘say hello to Aunty Margot’, and they all did,” she said.

“I have run into people on the street and they also call me that; I’m used to it.”

Ms Whelan is turning 80 on Sunday and said she does not feel her age.

“It’s a bit hard to believe that I’m going to be 80, I’m too young to be 80 I tell myself,” she said.

“I refuse to get old, I’m not doing it yet. People ask me when I’m going to retire and I say ‘when I get grey hair and wrinkles’, and I have just a little bit of grey hair and not too many wrinkles yet.

“I am the king of my own castle, only death and taxes will stop me. I’m from a family of eight kids, four of them have left this earth and I am the eldest of them all. You have to be grateful to be here and I love what I’m doing, I am not a sitting down person.

“It’s a shame I can’t see everyone, but what can you do? I told my family that I would be 80 for the whole year so maybe we will have to celebrate for Easter. “I can’t use a computer to attempt a Skype, so I expect I will be receiving many calls on Sunday from the family.”

While she spoke Ms Whelan filled chocolate cookies with jam, which she called her latest “invention”.

“During the first lockdown I started experimenting with things, I started making things like vanilla slices, cream puffs and stupid things because I could, you have to keep doing something,” she said.

Ms Whelan has been catering for around 40 years, selling delicious baked goods from her home and catering funerals and rotary club meetings.

“I am totally inexperienced, I learnt through what I tell people is trial and error. I sold the trial and I ate the error,” she said.

“I raised six kids amongst it all and people meet me in the supermarket and ask if I remember them, and I say, ‘yes, a wedding at Tyers hall’, and this actually happened to me last week and the wedding was 29 years ago, but I don’t do catering to big weddings anymore.

“People are looking for homemade food with no preservatives and no additives and I don’t use any of that, it’s just butter and egg, and honestly I don’t really know what preservatives are.

“Butter is absolutely my biggest expenditure, I used to have to sell a tray of cakes to buy the butter when the kids were little, but (the business) has just grown.”