Legends of the Nepean: Cheryl Devine

Cheryl and Jim on a raft trip in Banff.

CHERYL Devine is the President of the Emu Plains Lions Club, a Life Member of the Emu Plains Netball Club and a Life Member of the Emu Plains Little Athletics Club.

She was born at Penrith Hospital (the old Governor Phillip Hospital) and has lived her entire life in the Penrith district (Penrith, Emu Plains, Leonay), attending St Marys South PS, then St Marys High School (now St Marys Senior HS).

Whilst acknowledging she was never a scholar at school, Cheryl more than made up for any lack of attention in class with her performances on the athletic field.

As a student at St Marys HS, Cheryl broke the NSW Girls U15 Years 200m sprint record, which had been previously set by Australian Olympian Marjorie Jackson – the Lithgow Flash. Cheryl’s new record time of 12.7sec would stand in the the NSW Athletics book for more than 30 years.

Cheryl also broke the NSW Girls U15 Years 100m record in 1969, once again surpassing Jackson. Cheryl’s new record of 25.5 seconds would also stand in the NSW Athletics records for more than 30 years.

Cheryl also broke the NSW Girls U15 Years 400m record in 1969, again surpassing Jackson, and her new record of 59.64 seconds would stand for 12 years.

After leaving school, Cheryl continued on with Athletics, running for Fairfield Athletics Club, the closest club to Penrith with an A grade status. Those competitions were held at the Sydney Sports Ground each Saturday, and Cheryl also competed in various Athletics carnivals around NSW on Sundays.

Jim & Cheryl Devine’s wedding.

In 1970, Cheryl was selected to represent NSW at the Australian Championships, which were held in Sydney. She was a member of the Women’s 4x100m relay, running the third leg. “I was apparently good at running the bend,” said Cheryl. “We won the event and I have an Australian gold medal.”

Cheryl was subsequently part of the Australian training squad for the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games, along with some of the greats of the sport, including Jenny Lamy, Maureen Caird and Raelene Boyle, who joined from Melbourne. Unfortunately, Cheryl’s running career ended when she ruptured her Achilles tendon. “It was too hard to come back from that injury,” she said.

Netball was a major beneficiary of Cheryl’s enforced change of sport and she was associated with the Emu Plains Netball Club as a player for 12 years, plus as a coach and manager for approximately 35 years.
She also held various positions on the committee, including Vice President and Treasurer. Cheryl is still a prominent figure at the Jamison Park Netball Courts, each Saturday during the Netball season, scoring for her daughter’s team and supporting her granddaughters, who play and umpire.

Upon leaving high school, in the business side of life, Cheryl worked in the Martin Place branch of the Rural Bank of NSW, in the Accounting Department. She subsequently had various positions at a Publishing Company in Surry Hills, the classic ‘girl in the office’ role at a gyprock factory in Wetherill Park and in the Payroll office at Crane Taps, Penrith.

Cheryl was then asked by a mutual friend , Brian Parkinson, to work for him in his Real Estate office at Emu Plains. Some years later, Cheryl and her husband Jim, along with two friends, bought the business (Parkinson’s Real Estate).

After they later sold the business (being too stressful), Cheryl went to work at another Real Estate office at Springwood, where she would retire in 2014, having spent 29 years working in Real Estate.

Cheryl had met Jim in high school, some say ‘high school sweethearts’ and they were married in 1972, celebrating 50 years of marriage in October, 2022. They have two children, Sean and Lisa, and four grandchildren.

The Devine family remained in the Penrith district, spending their first few years living in Penrith, before moving to Emu Plains. “My grandmother Thelma told me I was coming home, as after marrying Ernest Dukes, she had also settled in Emu Plains,” said Cheryl. “My mother Norma Dukes was born in the family home at Jamison Street. She married my dad Jack Turner, also a local boy, living in Penrith.

“My beloved Jim now has Parkinsons Disease, 16 years on, and we are members of the Nepean Blue Mountains Parkinson’s Support Group (NBMPSG), where we attend monthly meetings and catch up for coffee with friends we have made within the group.

“Jim and I are also members of the Emu Plains Lions Club, which he joined in 2013 and is currently Treasurer. I was always in the background supporting him with his Lions work until 2019, when I also became a member. I have previously held the position of Treasurer and I am now the club President (since 2022). It is very rewarding to assist our community especially those who are struggling.

‘I am very proud to be only the second female to hold the position of President in our club and I was very pleased to be part of the organising committee which recommenced the Emu Plains Anzac Day Community Service. This was very important to me to assist with this day, as my dad Jack Turner was a Vietnam Veteran and my grandfather Robert Henry Turner a Rat of Tobruk.

“Jim and I love to spend time with our family, all of them are very keen Panthers supporters and Sean, our son, was ball boy for the Panthers for three years, from 1985-1987. Maybe this is where it started, as we drove him and watched all the games during this time. We were season ticket holders for more than 30 years, but now cheer on the boys from our recliners at home.”

Vivienne Ross, Carer and current Group Leader / Volunteer of the NBMPSG said “Cheryl is passionate about many causes, which has led her to her current role as President of the Emu Plains Lions Club.  She is truly a “pocket rocket”,  possessed with boundless energy and a thirst for making a difference in her community. I met Cheryl when she and her husband Jim joined my Parkinson’s Support Group several years ago.  Since then I have seen her photograph regularly in the local newspapers, documenting her Lions Club’s busy schedule of charity events. Cheryl is an absolute legend, and deserves recognition for her tireless work for others.”

Cheryl Devine was nominated as a Legend of the Nepean by Vivienne Ross.
If you know a local legend, send us a nomination at nepeannews@aol.com