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Meet St John’s Villa Resident, Iris

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Resident, Iris, from St John’s Villa in New Lambton is turning 100 next month. A self-proclaimed workaholic, Iris is energetic and spritely, has many interests and likes to be kept busy. Catholic Healthcare’s Comms team spent some time recently with Iris. Here’s what she said.

Q. How long have you lived at St John’s Villa?

A. I have lived at St John’s Villa for seven years.

Q. Why did you move into St John’s Villa?

A. My husband sadly passed away, and then I had a couple of falls. My family wouldn’t let me stay at home any longer on my own. I had a month’s respite in the Home in August 2013 and then stayed on permanently.

Q. What do you like about the Home?

A. I like living here and get on with everybody. I have made some special life-long friends. Sadly, one of my dearest friends recently passed away. The staff are caring and friendly and I am well looked after. The Home is always clean. They keep me pretty active which is great. I like to be busy. I am very happy here.

Q. What do you like to do in the Home?

A. I have many interests and passions. I love to crochet beautiful food covers for my family and friends. I have made 35 so far. I have a green thumb and enjoy pottering around in my garden. I was a member of the African Violet Society a few years back. I always like going on outings. We go to the local clubs in the area for lunch, go to the beaches such as the ever-popular Merewether with its spectacular views and not so long ago we visited Newcastle’s newest waterfront precinct, Honeysuckle. I have a 12-year old pen-pal whose name is Zali from the local school. We correspond quite frequently. This brings me much joy. I made her a throw over for her birthday recently and she is making a cake for my birthday. I also enjoy playing games such as bingo.

Q. What sort of work did you do in your earlier years?

A. I was a workaholic. I began working as a cook when I was nine years old. My parents ran a cattle farm on Tumut Rd, a few miles from Gundagai. I would come home from school and cook my mum and dad a hot meal every night. They would sell the milk and cream to a butter factory in Tumut. I would churn the butter.

At 13 years of age, I looked after our friends’ children as a nanny. I was very grown up. When I was 16-years old I worked in a café in Gundagai called Castrician Brothers which is still trading. I remember the politicians from Canberra stopping in and having a meal and a chat.

I also got work at a doctor’s place when I went on holidays to Melbourne. I looked after their two children aged four years and six months.

I worked in a boarding school too and was nearly killed. When I started work, I remember I had just finished writing a letter to my parents. At 11pm I turned out the light and the next thing I knew I was bashed over the mouth. I was hurt quite badly and lost some teeth. The fellow thought I was his pregnant girlfriend and tried to kill me. He got the wrong person!

Q. Tell me about your family.

A. My family owned a winery just outside Gundagai and my parents had a dairy farm, and later we moved to Newcastle. My grandparents originally came out from England. They were brought to Australia by Captain James Macarthur to look after his sheep in Camden.

My first husband, Frank, passed away and left me with a 13-month old son. I later re-married to Murray who lived on the property next door with his uncle in Gundagai. We had three children together. In 2006 we celebrated our diamond wedding anniversary, which was recognised by then Prime Minister, Hon John Howard.

We have 53 members of the family which includes my children, their spouses, my grandchildren, great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren.

St John’s Villa, New Lambton is currently having a special respite offer available from 14 December 2020 to 28 February 2021.

For more information please call the Customer Care Team on 1300 170 867 or enquire at www.catholichealthcare.com.au/campaigns/summer-respite-2020.