All proudly Australian
IT HAS been 57 years since Eddie Beckett arrived on Australian shores on a comfortable cruise liner.
Decades later it is still the best 10 pound trip the former Englishman has ever made.
It is one he has never regretted; yesterday Mr Beckett was finally sworn in as an Australian citizen.
He joined 41 other Fraser Coast residents taking part in an Australia Day citizenship ceremony at USQ Fraser Coast campus.
It was an impressive number of people joining our Aussie ranks, up from 23 last Australia Day ceremony.
Mr Beckett, 73, said it took him so long to become a citizen because the rules kept changing.
“It was only when I went to go for a passport recently I realised I was eligible to become a citizen.”
After the ceremony wrapped up and Mr Beckett joined in a group photo he revealed how relieved he felt: “I don’t feel like a criminal anymore,” he quipped.
Mr Beckett was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, and admitted that when he moved to Australia his accent was difficult for his new friends to understand.
Despite that though, he adjusted to the Aussie way of life easily: “It’s totally different; more laidback and more open,” he said.
It also didn’t take the former panel beater long to play Aussie Rules, become a Vegemite fan and even learn the Australian anthem. As for cricket though, he could leave that.
Mr Beckett has lived in Hervey Bay for “30-odd years” and retired when he was 68.
He has four children and 10 grandchildren.
The 42 new citizens who accepted a plaque and pot plant on the Coast yesterday have come from 16 countries.
Fraser Coast Mayor Mick Kruger and Hervey Bay MP Ted Sorensen were both there to offer congratulations.
Nationwide there were almost 16,500 people from 144 countries who made their pledge to become an Australian citizen yesterday; more than 350 ceremonies were held.
They included one in Wanneroo, WA, where 2600 people became citizens in the largest ceremony in Australian history.
Queensland had the highest number of people becoming citizens with 3500.
There are more than four million migrants from 200 countries who have made Down Under their home.