Lielette Calleja was born and bred in the north-western Sydney suburb of Thornleigh to migrant parents who had emigrated from Lebanon and lived there until she married.
“Even then I didn’t move far; we settled in the Hills district and have stayed there ever since.
“I used to be jealous of people who moved around.”
Her parents made the big move, coming to Australia to give their family a better life. They had five children, Lielette being the youngest and arriving soon after the family settled in Thornleigh.
“Dad was a carpenter: they called him Charlie the Machine because he could build anything you wanted. Mum worked in a plastics factory for many years, doing the night shift so she could be at home for the kids.
“My Dad was self-employed and his driving force was his family. He had a saying that when you’re in small business you put your family on the line, and that drove him to make sure his family was provided for.
“We didn’t live extravagantly; in fact, we went without a lot of things that other kids had, but we were healthy and happy.”
Sadly, though, her father’s dedication to his job literally drove him to an early grave.
“He suffered a heart attack then had a stroke when he was fifty-four and died three years later.”