Margaret began Physie along with her little sister in 1951 at Punchbowl Methodist Church under the instruction of Miss Parsons. Teach appealed for instructresses, so at age 19, Margaret commenced teaching at another church club in Punchbowl and instantly fell in love with her new role.
After marrying and building a home in Moorebank, Margaret opened Moorebank St Thomas with two other teachers in 1971 because there was “just nothing for young children in the area in the way of physical activity”. Within a few years Mrs McMahon’s club had more than 240 members. Majority of families have stayed, and their children have had children – Moorebank has several families that are third generation Physie girls.
In 2011 Margaret broke her neck. In a neck brace for three months following the accident and unable to leave home because the slightest bump could have had dire consequences, Margaret found out what a strong and loving local community she had helped to build through half a century of faithful volunteering. Scores of people she had aided so assiduously in her commitment to teaching physical culture and Sunday school classes rallied around to help her recovery.
In 2017 Margaret was awarded the highly prestigious Medal of the Order of Australia, for her service to community health. True to Margaret’s nature, she was “surprised and humbled” to have been recognised for such a prestigious award.
We sat down with Margaret to ask her our 5 “Teacher in Focus” questions.
1. Physie dresses have changed so much over the years. What is your all-time favourite dress/leotard? Either one you have worn or seen
I guess my favourite dress/leotard would be a green leotard worn at Grand by our daughter in 2015.
2. What is your most memorable Physie song?
Three songs come to mind - "You Raise Me Up" for Lunge Group. Themes from "Love Story" and "Titanic" for Senior Rhythm.
3. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be?
4. When not at Physie, what would your dream day look like?
Definitely time spent with family.
5. Probably not an easy one to answer, what is your favourite Physie memory?
Just so many wonderful memories but I guess my favourite would be the years spent with my Mother as our Pianist and then my Daughter as a Co-Teacher. The 3 generations all enjoyed a great passion for our Physie.
On a personal note, you will never find a more appreciative, accepting, nurturing, understanding person than Mrs McMahon. Many a physie girl has been on the receiving end of her warm heart and ever giving nature. She is a true lady in every sense of the word.