Name Update: Twin Name Rethink

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Connie and Sean welcomed their twin girls a few months ago, and after some negotiations, they were named Martha PrimrosePosie” and Winter Raphaelle. However, even though Winter was Connie’s own choice for her daughter’s name, since the twins were born she has experienced some name regret. She now wonders if she should have chosen the name Willa for Martha’s twin – a name she earlier considered.

Connie would be very grateful if people would vote in a very quick poll to help her decision-making.

You Asked About … The Weekly Birth Announcements

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I’ve been publishing the Birth Announcements category every Friday for almost three years now, and by now I’ve received quite a few questions about them. Here’s the answers to them, plus the answers to questions you haven’t asked, but you might have wondered.

Why do you publish the Birth Announcements?
I read birth notices for my own interest every week, and have done so for several years. Like any collector, I felt like sharing my finds.

What benefits do you imagine other people would receive from reading the Birth Announcements?
Australia doesn’t have much name data past the Top 100, so it’s a way to show the variety of baby names being used by real people, right now. And there’s no data on middle names at all. People might also see names, or name combinations, they admire and consider using themselves. Or they might just be interested generally.

Where do you get the names from?
The bulk of them are from birth notices in newspapers – I read 22 different newspapers for the birth notices, many of them from regional areas. Brooke from Baby Name Pondering contributes names from the Herald Sun, so that’s 23 papers. I also scan hospital announcements – many newspapers publish photographs of babies born in their local hospital that week or month. There’s also baby competitions, such as Bonds Baby Search, stories about new babies in newspapers and magazines, parenting and photography blogs, and even a few babies that readers have seen in real life.

How do you choose the names – do you just pick your favourite names each week?
No, I definitely don’t just pick names that I really like; that would be very boring and repetitive (not to mention a fairly short list). I try to get a good variety of names, and although there’s no set way of choosing names, I generally look out for:

* unusual, rare, and unique names (especially ones that are new to me)
* daring and darling middle names
* popular names matched with eye-catching middles
* names I have featured on the blog (especially the more unusual ones, to show people do use them)
* interesting and appealing twin sets and multiples
* sibsets that seem well-matched, or strangely-matched
* intriguing sibling names (if a name seems ho-hum, check its brother or sister …)
* names from a diversity of cultures (even if that isn’t always obvious from the name)
* unisex names for both genders
* names that aren’t popular, but are on trend
* hip and fashionable names
* names that show up again and again, as a heads-up how well-used they are
* names that are particularly Australian, especially patriotic ones
* names that somehow seem very typical of their time and place
* name combinations that I think will be crowd-pleasers and appeal to other people
* potentially controversial names that I think will get a strong reaction from other people
* and yes – my own personal favourites!

How do you choose the headline names?
I generally look for two names which seem to go together in some way, usually that are in a similar style (like Odette and Raphaelle), or have a connecting theme (like Elvis and Memphis). Names which can easily be matched with a picture are favourites of mine, hence the amount of vocabulary names like Rose, River, Robin, and Rain.

How do you choose the profile pictures?
It’s varied over time. At the moment, I try to find a picture suggested by the headline names in some way, and if that isn’t possible, I might choose one related to the season (like a snowman for winter), or look for ones of children and young people that somehow remind me of the names. For example, last Friday the names were Brinley and Saige, who I could imagine as surfers.

Is it hard to find enough interesting names each week?
No, I usually have too many names, and have to hold some over for the following week. It can be hard to find an equal number of boy and girl names – some weeks it feels as if all the boys have really cool names, and all the girls are named Charlotte Anne and Emily Louise, and then the next week it will be the girls with exciting names, and the boys all called William Thomas and Lachlan James. But I figure that helps give a chance for the more “normal” names to shine.

Any other difficulties?
It can be hard to make sure the names that week aren’t too much alike. Girls names especially seem to be very similar to each other, so that I will have a Mae, a Maeve, a Maya, a Mia, and a Mila all in one week, not to mention six names with Grace as the middle name. In these cases, I will also hold names over for another week.

Are you getting bored with doing this?
Nope.

Shouldn’t you publish all the names you see in a week, instead of filtering them for us?
Hm, interesting suggestion. To me it seems as if 100+ names will just blend in with one another, but my final Birth Announcement for the year will have all the names from  that week, so you can see what it would look like.

Do you publish any of the names so that people can make fun of them?
Definitely not, and I’d be disappointed if people used them as an opportunity to be mean: these aren’t Hollywood celebrities; they’re basically our friends and neighbours. I deliberately don’t tend to choose names that are often targets of name bullying, such as common names with outrageous spellings (apart from anything else, I don’t find them interesting). Having said that, I can never resist a name or name combination which strikes me as comical; I love them.

I don’t remember publishing my child’s name on the Internet – where did you see it?
I don’t make a note of where I see every name, but I will do my best to track it down for you.

You spelled my child’s name incorrectly!
I am but human. Let me know, and I will edit the post.

I don’t want my child’s name published on your blog
Oh dear. Are you sure? It will make me very sad, but I can remove it.

Are you stalking me, or my children?
No, really I’m not. Look at all the newspapers and blogs I have to read – I don’t have time to stalk individual families for their names. I know it looks suspicious that half the kids from your mother’s group were in one set of announcements, or your daughter’s name was in a set of announcements with your kids’s school as the profile picture for it, or your first child’s name was published 18 months ago, and now I just published your second child’s name as well. It’s just that it’s a small world, and you go to a hip mother’s group, and you live in a small town with not many photo opportunities, and you have great taste so both your kids ended up on the blog. I promise these are all by chance, and not by design.

I saw a fantastic name in the Birth Announcements and used it for my baby!
Yay!

What happens if I see a name or a sibset that I think is the bee’s knees?
Leave a comment to that effect (either on the blog itself, Twitter or Facebook), and eventually they will get voted on so we can see which names everyone likes the most.

Aren’t the name polls just a popularity contest?
Like most things in life, yes. I wouldn’t take it too seriously – we’re not voting on the Nobel Prizes here.

Don’t you think there’s too many names to vote on for most of the polls?
Yes. Next year there will be a monthly poll, which hopefully will make them more manageable. In the beginning, I worried not enough people would nominate names, but due to Sarah’s example at For Real Baby Names, I’m now confident enough to nominate names myself if nobody else bothers.

I have developed an addiction to birth notices, and your weekly round up is no longer enough for me – I need more birth announcements!
Completely understandable. Ebony at Babynameobsessed publishes birth notices from Western Australia, then there’s Elea at British Baby Names, who has weekly birth notices from the UK, plus historical birth notices from The Times. Kara at The Art of Naming has birth notices, I think from her local area, and Clare’s Name News provides links to several European blogs that have birth notices from non-English speaking countries. Then of course there’s the motherlode – For Real Baby Names, where Sarah posts names from birth notices several times a week. Plenty of places to get your fix!

Celebrity Baby News: AFL Babies

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Trent Cotchin, and his wife Brooke, welcomed their first child last month, and have named their daughter Harper Foxx. Trent is the captain of the Richmond Tigers, and has played for them since 2008.

Paddy Ryder, and his wife Jess, welcomed their son Harlan almost a year ago, a brother for Liliana. Paddy played for Essendon from 2006-2014, but has signed with Port Adelaide for next season; before joining the AFL, Paddy had a successful career in the WAFL, playing for East Fremantle. His father Revis also played for East Fremantle.

Brent Stanton, and his partner Sonja Roberts, welcomed their son Connor almost a year ago. Brent has played for Essendon since 2006.

(Photo shows Paddy, Jess, Liliana, and Harlan)

Brinley and Saige

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Girls
Amaya Jean
Amber Kate
Charlotte Oliana
Eloise Wynne (Seb)
Florence Maggie (Sonny)
Genevieve Claire (Olivia)
Heidi Rose Daniela (Ashlynn)
Ida Myrtle
Indiana Skye
Jerusha (Jared, Brianna, Martin, Abisjah, Hannah, Elisheba, Sarah, Archer, Caleb)
Joscelyn May (Sophia)
June (Pearl, Edie)
Keira Elizabeth (Riley, Savannah, Caelan, Diesel)
Larissa Jane
Lola Remy (Macey, Isabella, Elka)
Lucy Estelle (Brittney)
Maya Ellen (Aidan, Tate, Taylah, Logan)
Molly Susannah (Amy, Jennifer, Sam, Paul, Elizabeth)
Olivia Joan Gladys (George, Hugh)
Poppy Adelaide (Flynn, Connor, Max)
Samantha Cornelia
Shyla Lee (Rheanna, Mikayla, Cayden)
Tiarnah Nevaeh
Winifred Margaret “Winnie” (Daisy)
Zara Sage (Harry)

Boys
Alvaro Shane
Asher Clancy (Curtis, Matilda)
Astyn Terrence (Alyvia, Ethan)
Blake Casella (Harrison, Charlize)
Brinley Mason (Addison, Bailey)
Callum Leonardus Royce (Sydney, Kristina, Connor, Anthony, Nicholas, Vanessa, Melissa)
Dorian John
Drew Edwin William
Edward Sidney “Teddy”
Jagger Jack (Cruz)
James Oliver Spry
Joel Harvey (Katie, Brendan, Kade, Jaycob, Ethan)
Louie Anthony (Joseph, Charlie)
Maddox Riley
Mitchell Alexander (Rawdon)
Nathaniel Reid
Oliver Geoffrey (Roland)
Ryder Owen James (Jacob, Zeke)
Saige Kane (Harmonni, Maddison)
Scott Thomas
Stefan Matthew (Lily)
Theodore Anson
William Harry (Oliver, Edward)
Xavier Pete

(Picture shows boys at the 2014 NRMA NSW Junior Surfing Titles in Port Macquarie; photo from Port Macquarie News)

 

Celebrity Baby News: Claire Hooper and Wade

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Comedian Claire Hooper, and her husband Wade, welcomed their daughter Penelope in February. Penelope’s original nickname was Fat Tony, presumably after the character from The Simpsons, but this seems to have been a “baby nickname”, rather than what they intended to call her permanently. Elsewhere she is referred to as Penny.

Claire graduated from Curtin University in Perth with a degree in Theatre Studies, and worked in theatre as both an actor and a director, including youth theatre. In 2004 she won the Western Australian finals of Triple J’s Raw Comedy, and in 2005 was selected for the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and won Best and Fairest at the National Improvisation Championships in Sydney. As well as working in stand up, Claire has often appeared on television, including Stand Up Australia, Rove Live, How the Quest Was Won, The Sideshow, and Good News Week. In 2010 she released her first book, Love Bites: 101 Tips for Dating Guys With Fangs. Recently Claire ran a half-marathon at the Medibank Melbourne Marathon Festival, finishing in two hours and thirty-five minutes.

Does an Australian celebrity choosing the name Penelope give Australian Penelope-lovers the willies? Or have so many celebrities chosen it now that one more doesn’t make any difference?

Requested Names: Maida and Maeva

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Michelle’s partner has suggested the girls’ names Maida and Maeva to add to their name list. At first, Michelle thought these were “made up”, but once she discovered they were genuine names, became a lot more interested in using them, as she quite likes them. She’s asked that Maida and Maeva be featured on Waltzing More Than Matilda, so she can learn more about them.

Maida
This name was popularised in Britain during the 19th century because of the Battle of Maida, which was a British victory against the French during the Napoleonic Wars. It took place in the town of Maida, in Italy, and the British were able to inflict significant losses while incurring far fewer casualties on their side. Through the battle, the British were able to prevent a French invasion of Sicily.

The commander during the Battle of Maida was John Stuart, who was named Count of Maida by Ferdinand IV of Naples and Sicily in thanks for his efforts (the British knighted him, and gave him £1000 a year). Not long after his victory, he received another honour: a pub on the Edgeware Road in London was named The Hero of Maida, and when this area was developed for residential housing in the mid-19th century, it was named Maida Vale after the pub (and indirectly after Sir John Stuart). Maida Vale is now quite an affluent area.

Maida Vale in London has given its name to a suburb in outer Perth, which still has plenty of natural bushland. There is a rare wildflower unique to this area called the Maida Vale Bell (Blancoa canescans), which is a type of kangaroo paw with reddish bell-like flowers. Another Western Australian connection is that the pioneer Sir Richard Spencer took part in the Battle of Maida as a naval captain (the British navy captured a French vessel, and renamed it the Maida). After emigrating to Australia, Spencer ended his days on the heritage-listed Strawberry Hill Farm in Albany.

A Scottish connection is that Sir Walter Scott was given a deer-hound named Maida, reputedly his favourite dog. It was a gift from Sir Walter’s friend, Colonel Alexander MacDonnell of Glengarry, known as Glengarry after his estate. Glengarry’s brother, James MacDonnell, had led the 78th Highlanders Regiment of Foot at the Battle of Maida, and won a Gold Medal for his services. The 78th fought valiantly, and are said to have lost only one man: the name Maida has ever after had particular resonance in Scotland, and is still in some use.

The rural town of Maida, where the Battle of Maida was fought, is in Calabria in southern Italy: often identified as the “toe” of the country’s shape. The name of the town is derived from Greek, and may have the same source as the name Medea, familiar in Greek mythology as the wife of the hero Jason. Her name literally means “cunning”, but with connotations of “rule over, protect”, from an ancient root meaning “to measure, give advice, to heal”.

While the Battle of Maida was behind the name’s surge of popularity in 19th century Britain, it doesn’t explain the handful of times it was used prior to 1806, nor does it explain the name’s use in the United States, where the name Maida occasionally made the Top 1000 between 1880 and 1920. In such cases, the name may be a pet form of names such as Magdalene or Madeline; in Scotland, it could be seen as a variant of Maisie. It also can’t be ruled out that it was sometimes based on the English word maid, shorthand for maiden, meaning “young girl, virgin”.

A 20th century influence on the name in the United States was the Maida series of children’s books by Inez Haynes Irwin, a feminist and socialist author and journalist. The books revolve around a beautiful motherless little girl named Maida Westabrook who possesses both fabulous wealth and a fantastic personality, recovering from severe illness that has left her with a slight disability. It turns out some wholesome child labour and the friendship of a whole neighbourhood of ordinary kids is what she needs to put the roses in her cheeks, and further adventures follow with her posse of plebeian pals.

I read the first book online and was charmed: it’s an urban fairytale, and the sort of vintage book I would have loved reading when I was about nine. I can quite understand why this series of books, spanning from 1909 to 1955, has gained generations of loyal fans, and was not surprised to see several comments from people who had been named for the character or had named their daughters after her.

Last year there were 26 baby girls named Maida in the United States, and 18 in England/Wales. Maida doesn’t show up in recent Australian birth data, although is occasionally seen on older women. There are over a hundred Maidas in Australian historical records, mostly from the late 19th century to the early 20th century.

Maeva
This is from Tahiti, and means “welcome”; it is used as a word and a name in Polynesia, and is a Top 100 name in France, as Tahiti is part of France’s overseas territories. Maeva is pronounced mah-AY-va in Tahitian, but judging from one example on forvo, French people seem to say the name very much like MAY-va.

Maeva is used as a name in Australia too, appearing in historical records from the late 19th century. Most likely it was an elaboration of the Irish name Maeve rather than of Polynesian origin. Maeva was the middle name of Gladys Cumpston, who transcribed texts into Braille. If you look at Maevas in Australia currently, many seem to be French, although there are also Australians, including those of Islander heritage. Last year there were 34 babies named Maeva in the United States, and 4 in England/Wales.

* * * * * * * * * *

Michelle, what an intriguing pair of names your partner has suggested! I am very impressed by his style, because these are both very rare names which are nonetheless bang on for current trends. They fit in so beautifully with the trend for vintage names, and with names beginning with M, and with the AY sound, so that you’d have a baby name different from everyone else’s, without sounding too glaringly different.

Maeva in particular would blend in almost seamlessly, as it sounds like a mixture of Mae, and Maeve, and Ava. It would be very easy to explain to others as “Spelled like Maeve, but with an A at the end”, or “Pronounced like Ava, but with a M at the front”. You might even worry that it blended in a bit too easily, and could be confused with other names – there might be a few moments of “No, it’s Maeva, not Maeve”, although that doesn’t sound like a big deal.

Maida seems a bit more daring, although it reminded me a little of a contracted Matilda, or Maia with a D. I feel as if some people might be slightly taken aback by the Maid- part, as we use the word “maid” to mean “servant, serving girl”. But what a rich and interesting history the name Maida has, with so many layers of meaning and evocation. The more I learned about the name Maida and its many associations, the more I was mentally barracking for you to choose it.

I think these are both beautiful names, rare yet accessible, vintage but in line with current trends. What do you think of Maida and Maeva, readers?

Thank you to Michelle for requesting Maida and Maeva be featured on Waltzing More Than Matilda

(Photo shows the farmland around the town of Maida in Italy)

Celebrity Baby News: Elyse Taylor and Seth Campbell

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Model Elyse Taylor, and her husband Seth Campbell, welcomed their daughter Lila Louise in March.

Elyse began modelling at 18, and has done catwalk modelling for brands such as Dolce & Gabbana and Tommy Hilfiger, and well as appearing on the covers of magazines such as Vogue, Elle and Harper’s. In 2008 she was named one of the faces of Estee Lauder. She became an ambassador for O’Neill surf brand in 2011, and was chosen to judge the O’Neill Model Search. Elyse is best known for her work with Australian fashion brand Kensie, and for modelling for Victoria’s Secret in 2009 and 2012.

Seth Campbell is a New York businessman who is the founder of Upper Echelon Shoes; the UES label is worn by celebrities such as Gwen Stefani, Miley Cyrys, Diddy, Carmen Electra, and Fergie. He and Elyse were married in August on his family estate in The Hamptons; the reception included Australian touches such as meat pies, and pairs of thongs as gifts for the guests.

Baby Names That Don’t Always Travel Well

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Last month I had an article on baby names that are widely popular all over the world, and this post is its opposite – a look at some baby names which are common or accepted in Australia, but can be problematic in other countries.

While an international name means that most people understand your name easily, these are names that not everyone are going to immediately “get”. They may need explanation, a thick skin, and in some cases, a nickname or more appropriate middle name to the rescue.

I often see Australians having a laugh at foreigners with “funny” names, so this is a reminder that one day your child could be the foreigner with the funny name!

BOYS

Banjo
It’s the name of our national poet, but let’s face it, it will sound weird to people in other countries.

Connor
Sounds very much like the French word connard, which is an extremely rude insult.

Duncan
In Australia this is an underused classic. However, in many parts of the world, the American company Dunkin’ Donuts makes people associate the name with sugary deep-fried dough. It’s enough for Nancy from Nancy’s Baby Names to consider the name unusable – she’s from New England, which is where Dunkin’ Donuts originated. Dunkin’ Donuts are rapidly expanding through the United States, and sold in many countries around the world. They used to be here too, and I can’t remember the name being an issue – maybe I didn’t eat enough doughnuts.

Hamish
Although popular here for decades, this is a very rare name in the United States, and according to Nameberry, is seen as “redolent of Olde Scotland”. Even Angela Mastrodonato from Upswing Baby Names sees Hamish as much too stereotypically Scottish for American use. In German, Hamish sounds just like the word hämisch, meaning “bitter, spiteful”.

Harry
In many parts of the United States, this name is commonly pronounced the same way as the word hairy. It is enough of a problem that the city of Fort Wayne in Indiana decided not to name a government building, or any streets, after a popular mayor named Harry Baals (Baals pronounced like the word “balls”). However, there is a Harry Ball [baseball] Field in Massachusetts which doesn’t seem to have caused any issues.

Kai
Kai is a common name for boys and girls in many countries of the world – but not New Zealand. Why? Because it’s the Maori word for “food”.

Kevin
This Australian classic that we were happy to elect to high public office seems to be the most internationally despised name, with Germans in particular discriminating against Kevins. They even have a word for it: Kevinism (like racism, but more socially acceptable). In the UK, it’s short form Kev is another word for chav.

Luke
In Russian it sounds the same as the word for man hole.

Ned
In Scotland, ned is very derogatory slang for “thug, lout”, and even in parts of England isn’t viewed favourably (rather in the fashion of Kevin).

Rex
A classic name in Australia, but considered to be a dog’s name in Central and Eastern Europe: in Germany, they cannot seem to disassociate it from German Shepherd star, Inspector Rex. We also have a tradition of dogs called Rex, and Inspector Rex is on here television here too. Go figure.

GIRLS

Allegra
An allergy medication in the United States – it’s sold as Telfast here.

Bebe
In French, this is the word for baby. Comedian Adam Hills has a daughter called Beatrice, nicknamed Bebe, and during this year’s comedy festival in (French-speaking) Montreal, he noted the puzzled and disdainful reactions he received when announcing his daughter’s name (much like here if you told people you’d called your baby, Baby). In Finland, a bebe is a type of cake.

Harriet
Harriet was one of the fastest-rising names of last year. But in Iceland it became a huge problem for one family, with the threat of Harriet’s passport being cancelled. Harriet doesn’t make sense grammatically in Icelandic, so it is on the list of banned baby names. Of course, that only applies to babies born to at least one Icelandic parent – it won’t stop someone named Harriet living in Iceland. However, English people who work in Iceland and have names that aren’t on the official list say their names have made communication very difficult, due to the problems with Icelandic grammar. I suspect that in countries which have official lists of names, anyone with a name that doesn’t make the list might be seen in a negative light, as they won’t have a “real name”.

Jemima
Fashionable Jemima is a “problem name” in the United States, where Aunt Jemima is a highly popular brand of breakfast foods. The image for Aunt Jemima is an African-American woman, originally a stereotyped figure from a minstrel show. Even though the modern icon of Aunt Jemima is quite different, many white Americans still feel uncomfortable about the brand’s racially-loaded history. They may also be discomfited that Jemima was a “slave name” – probably an Anglicisation of one of the many similar-sounding African names. African-Americans seem less conflicted about using the name Jemima, and can even feel positive towards the affirming side of the trademark.

Lola
Means “grandmother” in the Philippines – it’s the opposite problem to Bebe.

London
In Britain this is considered a “weird name”. Well fair enough – imagine if you met an Englishwoman named Canberra Smith! (I think it would be cool, but still weird).

Nikita
Although nearly always a female name here, in Russia and eastern Europe it is a male name. Rocking up and declaring yourself to be a girl named Nikita is the same as a woman in Australia explaining she’s named Nicholas.

Piper
Sounds very similar to the Dutch word pijpen, which literally means “playing the flute”, but is also vulgar slang for oral sex. Apparently sounds enough like it to be readily confused by Dutch speakers.

Pippa
This just entered the Top 100 in Australia, rising since the royal wedding in 2011. However, in Sweden it is a vulgar word for sexual intercourse, and in Italy, slang for masturbation or a hand job. In Poland, the word pipa is pronounced just like Pippa, and means “vagina”; as in English, this word can be used as an insult against a person.

Poppy
In German, Poppy sounds similar to poppen, a vulgar slang term for sexual intercourse. Names with a P-p sound seem to be a bit of an issue.

What names do you know of that might be a problem in other countries?

Celebrity Baby News: Vineyard Babies

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Peter and Hannah Logan, from Logan family wine company in the Mudgee area, welcomed their daughter Clementine Frances last March, during the 2014 vintage. The middle name Frances is in honour of Peter’s mother. Peter is planning a Clementine label wine, probably a riesling. He already has wine labels named after Hannah, his father Malcolm, mother Frances, sister Kylie, and brother Greg; the Ridge of Tears label is named for the Clan Logan’s Gaelic battle cry.

Damien Stevens and Jodie Belleville, award-winning Hunter Valley winemakers who have recently opened the Hart & Hunter winery and cellar, welcomed their daughter Audrey this year, a little sister for Grace, aged 5 (Grace can be seen running through a vineyard on their website). Damien and Jodie are in partnership with their London-based friends, Dan and Elle Hart.

(Photo shows Peter and Hannah with Clementine)

Celebrity Baby News: Netball Babies

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Jacqui Illman, coach of the Matrics in Adelaide, and her husband Matt, welcomed their daughter Leila on July 28. Leila joins big sister Lucy, aged 2. Leila was born just before the Matrics won their State Premier League grand final.

Jemma Johnston, who plays for Canberra’s netball team in the State League, and her partner, welcomed their son SamuelSam” at the end of last year.

(Photo shows Jacqui with Leila and Lucy)

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