TASMANIA'S new mother of the year had no idea she had even been nominated for the award until she got the phone call from Barnardos — and then she thought the charity just wanted a donation.

“I expected them to ask for a donation or to sell me a raffle ticket,” said 84-year-old Joan Bellinger.

The Burnie woman is not only a mother of four and a grandmother of 10, but recently took on a support role to care for her son-in-law following his diagnosis with a form of dementia

But Mrs Bellinger, a former schoolteacher, never imagined her input would motivate her daughter Lynne Butler to nominate her mum for the annual award

“I am overwhelmed, surprised and honoured,” said Mrs Bellinger.

She said she felt undeserving of the award, and was doing what any mum would do.

“You’re a mother for life, and I’m very lucky to be able to be a mother for this long,” she said.

Her son-in-law, Gerald Butler, received the diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia two years ago when he was only 47.

Mrs Bellinger said the diagnosis had devastated the family

Mrs Butler, who works full-time to support three children, said her mother and father Kevin Butler had been a wealth of support.

“I feel very lucky and blessed to have them both in my life,” she said.

She said they cook for the family, shop, do school pick-ups and take their grandchildren to sport.

Mrs Bellinger has taken on a caring role for her son- in-law and is there whenever she can be — as well as baking him his favourite biscuits.

Mrs Bellinger is now in the running for the national mother of the year award and will travel to Sydney next month for the announcement.

(This article was first published in the Hobart Mercury and was written by Anna Mather.)