Stories

There’s a unique story behind every individual, and these are some of our residents’ personal accounts of life, before Respect and as residents.

Maria (Rie) Jansen

Maria (Rie) Jansen

92, Coroneagh Park

Rie started gymnastics when she was just 6 years old all the way through to 25 years old and was asked to perform in England.

“Once a year we all got together with other gymnastic schools in a paddock and we all did the same exercise together. We all had ribbons and it looked like a red, white and blue flag. My boyfriend wasn’t into gymnastics but I kept going and wasn’t going to stop because of him and even when I married him, still kept it going. My mother said I had to marry my boyfriend before going to Australia. I was asked to go to England to perform but didn’t because I got married and went to Australia. I was looking forward to it but it wasn’t to be.”

Leila (Biddy) Bellchambers

Leila (Biddy) Bellchambers

88, Tyler Village

Biddy married George, brought a house in Deloraine, had three children Ruth, Dianne and Ian and lived happily ever after.

“I met my husband-to-be, George at Elizabeth Town Hotel where I was working. I wasn’t allowed out of kitchen, in those times women were not to be seen out in the lounge area. George had just got back from serving in the war and seen me about and thought he would like to meet this girl. One day there was a knock at the door, it was George. My friend answered the door, George asked to see me, so I came to the door and he said, ‘Leila would you like to court with me?’ What did I say? Yes of course!”

Anton Ward

Anton Ward

82, Eliza Purton

Anton’s daughter reminisces proudly about her Dad’s talents and life accomplishments:

“He was born Anton Willem Ward in Middleburg Holland in 1934.

Mum and dad came out to Australia about 3 months after they were married in 1960. He picked up whatever work he could get. He used to work in factories quite a bit. He worked with BHP in Sydney at one point. A year and a half after we got to Australia he joined the RAAF.

I grew up with dad playing the fiddle, he has perfect pitch and can play anything by ear. People always commented that he was so clever especially when he played the fiddle. He used to play nursery rhymes when I was little. I’ve got a recording of it actually, from when I was about 2.

He had a huge library of books and a huge collection of music, spoke 5 languages and travelled the world. He loved walking, an hour and a half a day. Dad loved the ocean, always did. Dad actually built a boat – a trailer/sailor with a cabin and everything. When we went back to Holland he bought a laser and he and I would get on the lake in Holland (it was freezing) and sail. It’s one of my most cherished memories.

Dad was a devoted husband for over 53 years to his wife Ella. They did so much, they crammed so much into their lives together. They moved a lot – different countries, different states. Mum and dad renovated houses. He was always that quiet, dependable type of person for us. He’s got really good manners, he’s a gentleman, would open doors for people, try to share his food. He is the cleverest person I’ve ever known and the most modest. He didn’t like a fuss. He is the best dad a girl could ever have”.

Edward (Ted) Howe

Edward (Ted) Howe

100, Coroneagh Park

1939 at the start of WW2, Ted joined the army at the age of 22.

“I got promoted to Corporal then Sergeant Major. When I got shot a big heap of rocks were nearby so I crawled behind the rocks until someone came over and dressed my leg. They were going to put me on a stretcher but I said no thank you, I could walk – the other soldiers were worse off than me.” “…the Kadoka trail was terrible and was so tough. Steep hills lots of steps in mud and it rained all night. Food was scarce. Nights spent sitting in a heap of water. Never had a cup of tea. Oh I tell a fib, I did get a cup of tea from the Salvation Army. I was sent to see someone about a plane that got cut down and it was the best cup of tea ever in my life I reckon.”

Nancy Aitken

Nancy Aitken

87, Coroneagh Park

Nancy would often send patrons on their way when they misbehaved at the Top Pub in Penguin.

“Mr Stone, who owned the Top Pub in Penguin, put me in charge of the pub as they were going to England for a holiday. I was helping out in the kitchen at the time. I put a fellow out after he kept ignoring requests to behave and stop loud mouthing. He came back the next day and apologised and he behaved himself ever since. I was always treated with respect and treated as one of the gang. I had positive feedback from all of the patrons. Some of the comments made was that I was helpful, firm but fair and respectful to all the patrons.”

Lyall Cubit

Lyall Cubit

91, Eliza Purton

Lyall has broken 33 bones in his 67 year cycling career and won the Australian Championship in 1989.

“In 1965 whilst training I fell at Sassafras and fractured my skull. I was put on a bed of ice by Dr Gordon Jamieson at Latrobe which saved my life – 6 months later I was back on the bike. It was the most serious of accidents so is a strong memory. One day a member of the public walked across the track at Latrobe without looking and a group of riders fell trying to avoid them. My advice to budding riders is train, train, train. It’s the only way to be fit enough to compete strongly.”

Don Machen

Don Machen

87, Tyler Village

Don was a leading hand carpenter, constructed and maintained bridges that were used by trains and built independent workshops for government agencies around Northern Tasmania during the war.

“I lost my eye when making a model train for my children at Christmas. A detonator exploded on my work bench and my face was burnt and both eyes injured. My eyes were bandaged for some time after, one eye was able to be saved but not the other. My biggest challenge after the accident was getting back to work on the railways. There was a lot of pressure because I was the only one that held a scaffolding licence, they needed me back as soon as I could.”

Earland Gillow

Earland Gillow

83, Coroneagh Park

Earl played cricket for Australia in the 1940’s and was picked for the combined team undefeated for 3 straight years playing in Adelaide and Western Australia.

“I picked my first cricket bat when I was 13 years of age. It was Frank Wheatland that taught me to be a slow swing bowler. One day a chap by the name of Ray Mayberry took 5 wickets in the one game. He was good and was one of the fastest bowlers I have ever seen, that’s why we won 3 years in a row, he made the team spirit.”

Murray Appleby

Murray Appleby

89, Eliza Purton

Murray shows us that it’s never too late to start a new hobby, challenge or dream – no matter what age you start.

“I was the second eldest of eight children from the farming district of Upper Natone. I left school at 14 years old to work for 25 shilling and my keep. After 2 years I returned home to take over the lease of my grandfather’s farm as it was a soldier’s settlement farm from the First World War. My strongest memory of that time is the smell from bushfires, and of hay.

We often had goose for Christmas lunch and it was the children’s job to catch one the geese, which was most difficult, because the geese were wild and flew away from us!  I remember spending Boxing Days at Blythe Heads.  Mother would pack cold goose and jellies, and we would go by bus from Upper Natone to the wood chopping held near the mouth of the Blythe River. People would arrive in buggies.

I met my first wife Zenna when I was a bus driver and she was a passenger – she lived at Somerset. Zenna refused to get off the bus until the last stop. I have the feeling she asked me out, not the other way around.  We married in 1949 and lived in the old farm house at Upper Natone which had no power and just an open fire to cook with. After 12 months there we sold the farm and moved to Burnie, driving buses and taxis for 8 years.  We had two children Barry and Suzanne. Later working at the Paper Mill on shift work we decided to move to New Zealand for 5 years but enjoyed it so much they stayed for 15 years. Whilst there we travelled to many Pacific Islands.

I was married twice, first Zenna and then Alice – both of them lovely ladies. Alice was an old friend who I’d known for many years. We married, and had fifteen lovely years together.  I wrote my first poem when I was 84 years of age, written about my second wife. I always made sure my ladies had flowers and cards, and especially Valentine’s Day cards.”

Deasy O’Connor

Deasy O’Connor

96, Tyler Village

In 1947 Deasy and her mum created a children’s story book – Deasy created the artwork and Deasy’s mum wrote the verses.

“Mum was a lover of writing stories. She had written stories before but never a children’s book and none had been published. I was thrilled when the story was published. I painted the pictures for the book in a little studio in my house near where I used to live. My niece found the story and paintings in the family home at Avoca, I had forgotten about them. My family all love the book especially my nieces and nephews.”