Attention Internet Explorer User

Your web browser has been identified as Internet Explorer .

In the coming months this site is going to be updated to improve security, accessibility and mobile experience. Older versions of Internet Explorer do not provide the functionality required for these changes and as such your browser will no longer be supported as of September 2020. If you require continued access to this site then you will need to install a different browser such as Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome.

Australian Dictionary of Biography

  • Tip: searches only the name field
  • Tip: Use double quotes to search for a phrase

Story, Edwina Lovett Willis (Twink) (1913–1992)

by Jude Conway

This article was published online in 2020

Edwina Story, 1963

Edwina Story, 1963

Edwina ‘Twink’ Lovett Willis Story (1913–1992), radio personality and pianist, was born Edna Lovett Willis on 16 December 1913 at Newcastle, New South Wales, daughter of New South Wales-born Ethel Adelia Mary Willis. She took the surname of her adoptive parents Ernest Edwin Ford, house painter, and his wife Mary Ann, née Waring, who had two older children. Her parents bought a piano when Edna was eight, and she could soon play by ear. Receiving lessons, from the age of ten she sang and played piano in eisteddfods and concerts, becoming accustomed to performing in public. She passed examinations with the New South Wales State Conservatorium of Music, the Victoria College of Music (London), and the Australian Conservatorium of Music Board. The family moved around Newcastle, so Edna attended various schools. She left at the age of fifteen and began teaching piano, singing, and speech.

On 27 September 1930 Ford married Albert Motto Prize Giggins, an ironworker, at St Andrew’s Church of England, Mayfield. The couple had two children by 1940. Aided by a live-in nanny, Giggins continued performing. During World War II she sang and played for troop concerts in halls, Returned Sailors’, Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia clubs, and army camps.

Giggins aspired to a career in radio and had done some freelance work on commercial stations and for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In 1945 she was appointed the children’s program and concert organiser by the new manager of the radio station 2HD, Oliver James (Jim) Storey. He had been born on 28 June 1909 at Hertford, England, the son of James Story, journeyman house painter, and his wife Rhoda, née Dyball. Edna took to her new job ‘like a duck to water’ (Story 1988). She adopted Twinkle as her radio name, and began using the name ‘Edwina.’ From late 1945 she produced and conducted 2HD radio eisteddfods, which won a commercial stations award for fostering talent. As her knowledge of broadcasting grew, she was promoted to musical director at 2HD. She produced Community Frolics, a weekly show featuring artists and a singalong with herself at the keyboard, at venues around the Hunter region.

In 1950 Storey was divorced from his wife Doris, née Britten, a schoolteacher whom he had married on 1 March 1939 at the Methodist parsonage, Maryborough, Queensland, and with whom he had a daughter. The same year Giggins divorced her husband, and on 13 May that year they were married at the Central Methodist Mission, Newcastle. They dropped the ‘e’ from their surname and she came to be known as ‘Twink’ Story. When the Newcastle television station NBN 3 began broadcasting in 1962, she was asked to conduct the children’s program. Despite ‘marvellous reports’ (Brown 1962), she felt ‘stiff in front of a camera’ (Biggins 1985, 2) and returned to radio. From 1963 2HD focused on pop music and her children’s program was reduced to birthday and sick calls, but her signature tune ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ became entwined with her name.

Together with her husband, Story travelled overseas investigating radio stations and programs, and she devised the idea for Swap Shop, which became her greatest radio success. It began in 1970, airing for half an hour a week, with listeners ringing the station to sell and buy items. After she partnered with Mike Jeffries, and humour was injected into the show, the program expanded to one hour a day.

The Storys retired from 2HD in 1974. The switchboard was jammed with people ringing to farewell Twink, whose ‘clean, sophisticated voice’ had been ‘heard throughout the Hunter Valley’ (Sharpe, n.d.) for thirty years. She continued as a public figure, maintaining her involvement in a range of charities; remaining active in the Maitland Gilbert and Sullivan Society, which she had co-founded; playing piano in her Palm Court Ensemble; orchestrating charity concerts; and addressing groups. Jim died on 14 September 1984 at Maitland, and was cremated. In 1986 Twink was appointed OAM, and was made an honorary freeman of the city of Maitland in November 1992. She died on 3 December that year at Maitland and was cremated. The daughter and son of her first marriage survived her, as did the stepdaughter of her second. Her memorial service was held at Maitland Uniting Church. A tall, elegant woman with sculptured blonde hair pulled back into a bun and glasses said to have resembled those of Dame Edna Everage, Story had been remarkable for her prominence and longevity in male-dominated commercial radio. Although her husband was her mentor, she had to ‘prove’ herself ‘every step of the way’ (Story 1988), becoming a household name in the region in the process.

Research edited by Karen Fox

Select Bibliography

  • Biggins, Felicity. ‘The Story of Twink.’ Newcastle Herald, 1 July 1985, 2
  • Brown, John D. Letter to Twink Story, [April 1962]. Story Papers. Private collection
  • Maitland Mercury. ‘The Final Curtain for First Lady of Music.’ 4 December 1992, 1–2
  • Sharpe, Donna. ‘Twink Retired from Radio… But Not from a Full Life.’ Newspaper cutting, n.d., Scrapbook, Story Papers. Private collection
  • Story Papers. Private collection
  • Story, Twink. Interview with Bill Barrington, 8 August 1989. National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
  • Story, Twink. Interview with Leonie Milgate, 1 October 1988. Transcript. Margaret Henry Oral History Archive. University of Newcastle. https://livinghistories.newcastle.edu.au/nodes/view/75591

Additional Resources

Citation details

Jude Conway, 'Story, Edwina Lovett Willis (Twink) (1913–1992)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.online.anu.edu.au/biography/story-edwina-lovett-willis-twink-28332/text35998, published online 2020, accessed online 23 September 2020.

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2020

Edwina Story, 1963

Edwina Story, 1963

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Willis, Edna Lovett
  • Ford, Edna Lovett Willis
  • Giggins, Edna Lovett Willis
Birth

16 December 1913
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Death

3 December 1992
Maitland, New South Wales, Australia

Cause of Death

cancer (not specified)

Religious Influence
Occupation
Military Service
Awards
Workplaces