Andrea & Rob Webberley

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Andrea & Rob Webberley
Rob and Andrea Webberley with their son Cameron.
Married 19 years. Austin’s Ferry, Tasmania.


Andrea 

I was baptised a Catholic as a baby. I actually lived just along the road from Rob when we were kids, but we didn't know each other. When I was 15 I started work at a bakery, and that's where I met Rob.

We were quite close because we were spending a lot of time together in the bakery. I was starting work quite early by myself in the shop, so I was the only one there and he was always coming down to the shop to bring all the food down.  He kept on asking me out, but because he's a little bit younger than me, I was a little bit concerned. I thought I needed to marry someone that was either my age or a bit older. So for a long time I kept saying no, and he just kept on persisting, and finally I decided to give it a try, and then it was about a couple of months after that that we got engaged, and then we got married about eight months later.

My dad was fairly strict and we didn't get to go out really on dates so the only time we really got to go out by ourselves is when we would go to our marriage lessons. Also when Rob was becoming a Catholic he had lessons with Father Gerald.

We were married at St Joseph's by Fr Gerald Quinn.

I was 19 and Rob was 18.

After we got married, it was just like well: we've got all this time together. It was really nice to be able to spend time together, but I fell pregnant probably after a couple of months of marriage. I guess we've been having babies ever since.

We have nine children: Allison is 18 ranging down to John [who] is one.

We had some people we know who have been a bit against having lots of children or even when you fall pregnant the second time and the third time you kind of feel a bit worried about telling them because you know their reaction isn't going to be all that nice, but as we've had more, we've sort of become more open to having more.

Everything about them really is a joy.

Without our faith, we probably would have gone along with most of society and stopped at a couple of children, so I’m really glad for that.

When Cameron was born, he wasn't doing all the things that babies were meant to be doing so they started doing some tests. I was actually quite worried – I didn't think I could look after a child with issues. When they started testing us, I told Rob, "Well what will we do if there's something wrong? Will we put him up for adoption?" And Rob was like, "No way!" So I'm so glad. Anyway, they didn't find anything. They still haven't found anything. It's just that he's very delayed. They just call it global developmental delay.

He's taught us a lot. I guess we have to be a lot more patient with him, and we've spent a lot of time in hospital, a lot of times at the doctor and therapy and things like that: speech, occupational therapy and physio. He doesn't do that so much now. He's in full time school.

He's just so loving to everyone.

He'll just go up to random people in the supermarket and introduce them to me and I've got to shake their hand.

I've always kind of prayed. Lately I've been seeing lots of little things – lots of little bits and pieces where I can see where He's working and I just didn't realise it before.

About 10 years ago, we started praying the rosary together as well and I think that's been really important.

I don't think we started out meaning to start every day. Now it really is the ritual every night after tea. I guess when you work things in gradually, it's a bit easier.

Rob

My whole life I lived in Moonah up until the point where we moved to Austin’s Ferry. I was actually an Anglican. For a few years I went to church every Sunday. I never really thought much of it.

My mum actually used to work in the bakery where Andrea worked, and she got me a part-time job there just on Tuesdays cleaning the floors. I'd go in Sunday mornings and just help with making the bread and whatever, and then I got to meet Andrea. At that stage I was in grade nine.

She was pretty, and she'd speak to me and I worked with her. She definitely played hard to get.

I kept asking her [out], and she kept saying, "Oh no," or she couldn't, or that sort of thing.

I think I asked her out once and I had gone home and then the boss of the bakery rang me up and said you better come back in and ask her again. So I did and she said yes.

We started going out. We would walk home and then I’d stay there and have tea at her parents’ house, and then I would either get a lift home or I'd ride my push bike back home again. I ended up started to pay board up there because I was eating tea up there nearly every night.

I think I just decided to ask her to marry me. I thought it was the right thing to do, so I did. My parents were fine, but we were a bit more worried about Andrea’s parents because they were fairly strict Catholics.

When we got engaged, I was 17.

I think Andrea’s mum said I was too young, and Andrea’s dad was – he was just strict.

I remember early on getting the talk about making money and supporting a family. At that stage I had a loan for the car, and a loan for the stereo. I had to pull my trousers up and get into the black.

I had Catholic lessons with Father Gerald, and marriage lessons with Father Gerald, which were really our only dates. We got married fairly quickly, although it seemed like an eternity while we were doing our lessons and waiting.

I was actually quite surprised how similar it was to Anglican Church to start with, or it seemed similar until I started getting into it.

There's a lot of good family teachings that we learned, and ideals and rules for want of a better word, which actually make a lot of sense when you’ve got a family. If you are sort of struggling a bit you can look to the readings and to the scriptures.

I go to church on a Sunday; I probably go one other day a week. Sometimes you've actually got to make the effort, even when you're feeling a little like you can't be bothered or something. You still go along, and you feel better for it.

We got married at St Joseph’s. I would have been 19 when Allison was born. It was a pretty steep learning curve.

Cameron came along, and threw a spanner in the works for a while.

I'll tell you, Cameron changed a lot people’s perspective in our immediate family on disabled kids. They were all a bit taken aback to start with, and then they all got to know Cameron and got to know his personality and realised that he is just another kid and they love him the same as everyone else.

Whether they realise it or not, I can tell he has helped a lot of people.

I've learnt to let go of things and not worry about things quite as much as I used to. It’s just about putting them in God’s hands and trusting that whatever He wants is going to happen, and I don't really have that much say in it.

Since the interview, Rob and Andrea have joyfully announced that they are expecting their 10th child.