Audrey Dorothy ‘Sue’ Sewter was born on 11 January 1928 in Lancaster, England to Walter and Gladys (Cookson) Sewter. Following her schooling, Sue trained as a nurse at St Thomas’ Hospital in London and met fellow trainee Joy Edmonds. They became lifelong friends. In 1954 Sue and Joy travelled to New Zealand. After three years they returned to England. In an oral history interview with Penrith City Library, Sue recalled that she first visited Australia in 1956 and felt an affinity with the country. She returned to settle here in Penrith in 1959. She arrived on the SS Fairsea.
Sue arrived in Penrith to take up work as a nurse and nurse educator at Nepean District Hospital. Sue was head of Group School of Nursing at Nepean Hospital. In 1978, she was appointed by the Minister for Education as the first coordinator of the Western Metropolitan Regional Council for Nurse Education. She retired in 1984.
History and photography were always favourite past-times. When Sue arrived in Penrith she fortuitously and meticulously recorded and photographed the town. Sue joined the Nepean District Historical Society in the 1970s. She organized many walking tours around Penrith and Emu Plains for the Society and enthralled everyone with her dry wit and humour, and extensive knowledge of the local area.
Sue and Pam Sheppard started the archives at St. Stephens Church in 1989 and together they have published a series of booklets on the church’s history. Sue was also asked to help establish an archives at Nepean Hospital.
In 1994 Sue became a volunteer in Penrith Library’s Research Room. She lent the Library her photographic collection, from which the Library now holds its Sue Sewter Collection of 243 photographs. For a number of years, Sue undertook indexing of the Nepean Times and later assisted in cataloguing the Library’s extensive and historic photographic collection. Her last day as a volunteer was on 16 October 2009, when she signed with her familiar signature – A. Sewter.
In 2004 Sue presented an entertaining paper at the Library’s History Conference entitled ‘The Nepean Times: a brief look’. Sue’s contribution to our City was recognised in 2009 when she received a Penrith City Council Wall of Achievement Community Award.
Sue with fellow Library volunteer Pat Curry at the presentation evening
at Penrith City Council
Sadly, Sue passed away on 4 June 2017. Being such an organized person, Sue had planned her funeral, the church service and hymns and the eulogy! At her Thanksgiving Service at her beloved St Stephens Anglican Church in Penrith, held on 10 June, Sue’s friends, colleagues and past students paid their last respects to a great lady. Marie Hurley read her eulogy, but added a whole lot more!