Daphne Irene Chapman (nee Forwood) was born in 1921 in Sydney. Growing up between two world wars (both of which her father fought in) meant that Daphne knew what it was like to go without.1 She found though that she had a flair for hair styling and at the age of 14 was apprenticed to a local hairdresser.
During WWII Daphne contributed to the war effort by working in the Vickers woollen mill making great coats for soldiers. It was at this time she met Mervyn Chapman at a social outing and they married in 1942.2 After the war they moved to Shalimar on the Wallamba River with their first born child. A slab hut was Daphne’s introduction to country life, with long days of isolation.
The ladies on the river, starved of beauty treatments, soon made their way to Daphne’s door. Daphne mildly encouraged them out of their homes, styled their hair and made them feel attractive. Experience made her realise these women had spent the majority of their married life alone and isolated. Daphne began serving afternoon teas and gave encouragement and advice to those who hadn’t had the benefit of adult female company. Being a young mother herself, the women were able to share their experiences and worries.
Through these interactions Daphne developed her own inner strength and determination. She was the family historian with her box brownie camera and she loved fishing. Her vast contribution to the mental health and welfare of ladies living on the banks of the Wallamba River was much appreciated by all, but understood by very few in those forgotten years.
Author: Marilyn Boyd (daughter of Daphne Chapman).
1 NAA: B883, NX39894, Forwood John Thomas.
2 NSW BDM, marriage index for Mervyn Chapman and Daphne Forwood, No. 13601/1942.