Stealing moments with the Queen during a European trip, riding horses and muddy bicycles to school and pre-dawn milk runs on freezing New Zealand streets.

These are some of the memories which have already been collected as part of a new initiative called Remember When by retirement and downsizing living provider Lendlease.

According to Lendlease, the Remember When initiative was initially designed to help keep older Australians connected and stimulated during the COVID-19 lockdown period.

"We know that loneliness was the greatest source of personal stress across Australia during April, owing to the social isolation created by the coronavirus pandemic – and there’s no doubt that retirees form a large portion of this group,” said Tony Randello, Managing Director, Retirement Living, Lendlease.

“I’m looking forward to continuing to read the submissions, many of which include some inspiring stories of resilience during tough times.”

Stories are welcome from all Australian retirees and can come in the form of an inspiring one-page story, photo, poem or piece of art that reflects a time gone by.

Already dozens of submissions have been received, ahead of the 3 July closing date.

Below are handful of these stories:

The day a little girl stole a moment with the Queen

Lendlease retirement village resident Mocco Wollert from Queensland has shared the story of the day when her six-year-old daughter Susan broke through barricades to present the Queen with a posy of flowers during a European trip in 1956.

“It was 1965, I’d taken my little daughter Susan to Germany to meet the family,” Ms Wollert said. “At the same time the Queen was going to Germany; for the first time after WW2.  All the people were so excited and we especially so. 

“So, we went to see her and just before we left little Susan came from the garden with a little bunch of flowers and said, ‘I will give these to the Queen’.

“Well you don’t argue with a five year old, so I said come on then. We joined the hordes of people and we stood just outside the Casino and waited for the Queen to appear.

“Then the Queen appeared, it was so exciting, she looked so pretty. And I thought what the heck and I said, “run Susan run”, and she did, her little legs took her as fast as they could.

“And she ended up right in front of the Queen and low and behold she handed her the dreadful looking mangled posy of flowers. The Queen spoke to her - I don’t know what - and then Susan came back, not perturbed at all.

Susan Wollert hands her 'mangled' flowers to the Queen

“All hell broke loose, no one knew who this little girl was, and we had our glory moment.

“That day in Cologne is in my memory and the Queen is in my memory forever.”

Milk run in freezing Wellington, New Zealand

Mick Greig, a resident of the Glenaeon retirement village in northern Sydney, was brought up in the coastal Wellington suburb of Seatoun.

While picturesque, the suburb is known for its challenging climate, being directly exposed to Wellington’s famed wind and driving rain running from the Cook Strait.

From here, the story is told by Mick’s wife Margaret.

“Mick had many part time jobs during his high school and uni days, but he always said that his favourite was as a milkman,” Ms Greig said.

“He did this by driving a horse and dray house to house. He had to rise very early in order to be in town by 5am to collect Blossom and her cart load of milk bottles and then complete the hours’ drive out to Seaton to commence the delivery. 

“Blossom knew the route by heart so all Mick had to do was point her in the right direction and she would clip clip round the hilly streets while Mick ran from house to house collecting the empties and dropping off the full bottles. 

Mick Greig on his milk run with Blossom

“Just occasionally Blossom would try for a short cut and head for home while Mick was running to a front door and his voice would echo round the hills "Whoa Blossom". 

“At the end of the run she would trot contentedly towards her stables with Mick nodding off over the reins as he dreamed of his second breakfast. They were gentle simpler days!”

Riding a horse to school

Margaret Greig herself also rode horses, but at a much younger age.

“I was born in Fairlie a tiny town in the centre of the South Island. It lies at the gateway to the McKenzie Country on the road between Timaru and Mt Cook and is nestled at the foot of the Tom Thumb Range,” Margaret said.

“The climate is pleasant but bracing, lots of sunshine all the year round but very severe winters with heavy frosts and occasional falls of snow. 

“We lived on a sheep farm several kilometres from town and in the austere post WW2 years learning to ride a horse was a necessity. I was given my first pony, a little black Shetland called Wendy when I was four years old.

“The only way to attend the local school was to ride, no buses, no petrol for cars and too far to walk, so off Wendy and I would set. 

“The school had its own pony paddock where the ponies could graze while we were in class.

“It was a long boring ride for a little girl, so I used to play and dawdle on the way home sometimes calling in to neighbouring farms in the hope of a biscuit or a drink. 

“My parents were of course always worried about me and made a rule that if I was not home by 5pm I was to be sent straight to bed on arrival.

“It only happened a couple of times and I can still remember producing floods of very loud crocodile tears in protest!

“This was my transport to school until I was nine when a bus became available which meant that I didn't have to wear jodhpurs in winter and could wear a blue gym tunic just like everyone else. What a relief!”