Proserpine Whitsunday Uniting Church

Rex and Myra’s story

20 November 2023

Beatrice Myra Reynolds met Rex Robinson in Torquay, Devon, England, on Rex’s return from a term in Singapore with the RAF. Mutual friends introduced them, but it transpired that their families had been friends years before. Myra was nursing at Torquay Hospital; Rex’s parents lived at Paignton, close by like Cannonvale and Airlie.

It was November, cold, but Myra persuaded him to go swimming. He came back for more! Took Myra out in the boat with his parents and a friend. It was calm when they left, but blew up a gale, and the only boat out besides theirs was the lifeboat.

Rex and Myra were married on 26th July 1958, in St Michaels’s Church in Newquay, Cornwall, where Myra’s parents lived. They honeymooned in Nice, St of France. Rex had a free trip as he worked in the Civil Engineering Department of British Rail. They began married life at Plymouth where Rex worked, and Myra worked at the Eye Infirmary until Keryn was born in 1960.

In 1962, on ten days notice due to a cancellation, the family of 3 with another child on the way, left for Australia. 2nd daughter Bryony was born a month after they arrived in Queensland. Then the adventurous pair, with their two small daughters, left Brisbane on the July Wedding Anniversary, heading north. On staying a night in the Proserpine Caravan Park, their future was set for a happy life in this area.

Their 2 sons Jeremy and Nigel (always known as Podge) were born here. All the children married and have eight children between them, and now Rex and Myra have six much loved great-grandchildren. The latest great- granddaughter is only weeks old as we write this!


Working on the Island Mercy – A Mission Ship in Samoa 1998.  (written by Myra)

We went to the Solomon Islands for five weeks and worked on the Island Mercy, one of the Mercy Ship fleet.
We flew to Honiara, arriving on a Friday to find everything closed for the weekend.
On Monday we tried to find a way to Kira Kira where we were supposed to join the ship. No plane available for six days, no boats going that way. We knew a girl who lived on Malaita so decided to forget about Mercy Ships and go and stay with Cindy. We tried several phone calls but didn’t really get through to anyone, but caught a plane anyway. At the airport, a strange man came up to us with some keys and said, “You will need these.” It was Cindy’s husband John who we had never met. She was in Bowen visiting her mum and he was working in Honiara and they were his house keys. We
got onto the plane, the pilot stood in the doorway, said “I’m the pilot, life jackets under the seat and we are taking off.” We flew fairly low and could see the waves and boats below us, then the reef and we landed at Uki. We went to catch the bus and the driver already knew who we were and where we had to go. When we got to the village, Jane, John’s sister-in-law, was waiting for us and looked after us.

We found the Bishop’s boat was leaving the next day to go down the coast and we could go on it. The crew were monks, didn’t look like it, Nuns were passengers, they chewed betel nut, we had a sing song on the way, the crew cooked a huge pot of rice and we all added to it, mostly tins of tuna, Sol Blue, the staple diet.

The Island Mercy had moved by this time so we got set down on Little Malaita across the channel from them where there was a group of people. They ignored us at first. We had been told to go to the Police Station so asked where it was. A fat old bloke laughed and told us it was on the main island and no way to get there until morning. Then he chuckled and told us he knew who we were, there was a room for us there and a canoe would take us to the ship in the morning. We had to pay up front so they could buy petrol. The canoe turned out to be a long skinny boat with an outboard,
with a driver and his girlfriend. There were no seats so we sat on our baggage. At first, we went between the two islands and then out into open sea and over a reef and then across the bay to Masupa where there was a welcome sight, a big white ship – the Island Mercy. They were surprised to see us but very glad we came.

We were welcomed aboard, they had thought we would not be coming.  The ship has a dental clinic run by George, an American dentist and his wife, Joyce.  Betel nut makes the teeth strong and black but rots the gums.  There is also an ophthalmic team testing people’s eyes and giving out glasses.  The glasses are collected, cleaned, the prescription added.  The young people are taught to test the vision and give out the right glasses.

Each village has a medical clinic.  The local nurses do a 12 month course in Honiara and then go out to clinics, mostly with no doctors.  I was supposed to work with an eye surgeon but he did not come so I worked in the local clinics, sometimes helped by a young American girl who had only worked in a big hospital and so found it all a bit overpowering.  We prayed for every patient and did what we could.  We had chloroquine for malaria, penicillin powder, brufen and lots of Vicks Vapour rub.  We collected film canisters from everyone, filled them with Vicks and gave them out to massage shoulders etc sore from overwork.  They have terraces up the hills for gardens, dig them by hand, work all day with no water, carry heavy weights in a bag supported by a strap aound their head.  The men go fishing, building etc.

We visited a handicapped lady by canoe and took her some glasses.  One girl had a wrist problem, found she played the drums by hand in a local band – bandage and rest.  One man cut his foot with a motor mower, stitched him and that night he played at a dance.  We went all around the island of Malaita and were warmly welcomed by the people.

There are many stories to tell.  After we got off the ship, we spent some time with our friends and helped out at a Bible College.  Life in the village was good; the children adopted us and showed us around, took us swimming, playing games and at night, sang and danced for us.

There are now many more, and bigger Mercy Ships, as you see on TV.