H&a ailsa 1988

Judy Nunn as Ailsa in early 1988, then known as Ailsa Hogan, later Stewart

Ailsa Stewart, formerly Hogan (née O'Rourke) [1] was a character in Home And Away from January 1988 (Pilot Episode) to November 2000 (Ep 2960). She was one of the original matriarchs of the show. She wed Alf Stewart in May 1988 (Ep 86) and they remained married until her sudden death from a heart attack in 2000. Ailsa gave birth to their son Duncan in 1989. Ailsa was played by Judy Nunn apart from a short spell (Ep 2848 - 7 Jun 2000) to Ep 2868 (5 Jul 2000) when she was in hospital. Ailsa was played by Nancye Hayes during this time.
Ailsa Stewart
Character Profile
Birthday: 14 September 1950 - 24 November 2000 (age 50)
Birthplace: Australia
Father: Harold O'Rourke
Mother: Mrs O'Rourke
Siblings: Bridget O'Rourke
Tony O'Rourke
Spouse: Alf Stewart (1988-2000)
Children: Shauna Bradley (1979)
Duncan Stewart (1986)
Occupation: Shopkeeper
Diner owner
Played By: Judy Nunn (1988-2000)
Nancye Hayes (2000)


Ailsa O'Rourke was born to Harold O'Rourke and his wife, Ailsa being of Irish descent through her father. Ailsa's mother was of Scottish ancestry. She was one of 3 children, a brother Tony O'Rourke and a sister Bridget O'Rourke later Jackson. Ailsa's dad was a heavy drinker and used to beat his wife and children up when drunk. One night in 1968 when Harold was attacking his wife with a broken bottle, Ailsa got a carving knife and stabbed him to death. She was sent to prison for 3 years for manslaughter. She was released in 1971/1972. By then Bridget had left home and had a daughter Emma. Bridget later married a man called Barry Jackson and for years Ailsa was unaware her sister had a daughter.



In January 1988, Ailsa was now 37 and was friendly with widower Alf Stewart. She was quite feisty and took no nonsense from him. Alf's daughter Roo took a dislike to Ailsa and suspected that Ailsa had something to hide about her past. Alf and Ailsa became a couple and married in May 1988.

Ailsa took a dislike to the Macklin family, who were ruthless business people. Brett Macklin and Ailsa crossed swords. In August 1988, Alf and Ailsa had a row and he said he had better watch his back in case he gets a knife in it if he annoyed her. Ailsa was deeply offended by this and left Alf. She went to stay in Sydney, and then moved on to Singapore. Alf and Ailsa soon reconciled but she became close to an old friend Graham Lynch while in Sydney. Ailsa found that she was pregnant; she and Alf had a son named Duncan in January 1989.

Ailsa ran the Bayside Diner alongside Bobby Simpson and kept the residents of Summer Bay fuelled on a diet of hamburgers, meatloaves, carrot cake and milkshakes. As well as being good friends with Bobby, she was close to Pippa Fletcher/Ross. She revealed in one episode that at one stage, she and Donald Fisher had dated for a short while.

In 1989, Ailsa and Alf took in Ailsa's wayward niece Emma Jackson. She turned out to be the first of a few youngsters who came to live with her and Alf. Brother and sister Blake and Karen Dean were the children of Ailsa's deceased former prison cellmate Margot. They asked to come live with Alf and Ailsa in 1990. Karen went off the rails big time and went to prison in 1992. Blake left a year later to keep an eye on his wayward sister who had been paroled. Simon Fitzgerald moved in for a year but left to help his dad. Blake and Karen's half-sister Roxanne (Roxy) Miller lived with them for a while too.

In May 1995 (Ep 1699), Ailsa had to see off a difficult customer in The Diner. That night she was locking up and had turned all the lights off when she was pounced upon by the customer who attacked her and emptied the cash till. He then fled, never to be seen again. Alf found Ailsa sat by the counter in sheer shock. Ailsa had a breakdown and spent days at home in a bathrobe. It later turned out that Ailsa had taken 6-year-old antidepressants and started having hallucinations. Famously, one was of Bobby coming out of the fridge (Ep 1709 and Ep 1710). Ailsa got over her ordeal with the help of a psychiatrist friend of Pippa's. Briefly, it looked like her and Alf's marriage might be on the rocks because she wasn't sure she loved him any more.

In late 2000 (Ep 2960), Ailsa was helping move boxes after the Diner changed premises and she suffered a massive heart attack and died.

Her funeral took place in January 2001 (Ep 2961). Many Summer Bay residents gathered for her funeral but very few relatives apart from husband Alf, son Duncan and daughter Shauna. Her brother Tony, sister Bridget and niece Emma did not attend her funeral. Ailsa's ashes were scattered at sea off the coast of Summer Bay.


Memorable infoEdit

Date of birth: 14 September 1950

Died: 24th November 2000 (aged 50) (heart attack, cardio)

Full Name: Ailsa Stewart (Née O'Rourke)

First Line: (whilst tap dancing) "Just practising my routine for the variety night." (to Doris Peters)

Last Line: Yeah (to Alf, after he suggests she takes a relaxing bath after work)

In a continuity error, in 2000, Ailsa said she was in prison 20 (or thereabouts) years ago when she was raped by a prison warder. This makes her pregnancy around 1979/1980 yet in 1988 She said she was sent to prison aged 16 and given 3 years. Ailsa was born in 1950 so would have been in prison from 1968/1969 to 1971/1972. Shauna Bradley was born about 1979 or 1980.

Bevan Lee, H&A scriptwriter and series script editor apparently named Ailsa after his friend Ailsa Piper. She is an actress who later starred in Neighbours as Ruth Wilkinson.


Father Harold O'Rourke

Mother Mrs O'Rourke

Siblings Tony O'Rourke, Bridget Jackson

Spouse Alf Stewart (1988-2000)

Children Shauna Bradley (1979), Duncan Stewart (1986)

Nieces/Nephews Emma Jackson

See also Edit

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