A Personal Message From Fairview Village’s Chief Executive

Over the past six weeks we have been sharing the untold tales of our founding members and treasured residents to celebrate Fairview Village’s rich 60 year history.

It’s been an absolute privilege to share this glorious community milestone with you, all through the eyes of our treasured residents and community members.

As this momentous milestone comes to pass, we will continue to honour the charitable compassion displayed by our founding grassroots members, who all shared an amazing vision to care for our community’s elders.

Their spirit well and truly lives on at Fairview Village, as our passionate not-for-profit service continues to expand into the future of aged care in West Gippsland.

Victoria May, Fairview Village Chief Executive

Honouring Our Retirement Village Volunteers

Fairview Village residents, staff and representatives from the Uniting and Anglican churches, gathered in the Morton Lounge for a special afternoon tea to say thank you to retirement village volunteers Kaye Capon and Shirley Bollard, for their outstanding volunteering service to the Fairview Village aged care services community.

For the past 30 years Shirley Bollard, who this year celebrates her 91st birthday, has been responsible for setting up and assisting with the coordination of Church Services at Fairview Village, while Kaye Capon has been playing the piano at these church services for the past 11 years.

An outstanding effort by both ladies who have decided that the time has come to take life a little bit easier.

Fairview Village volunteers Kaye Capon and Shirley Bollard

The Faces of Fairview Village – Lois & Bert

Lois (Cropley) Silcock recounts her deep family connections with Fairview Village.

Having provided for the needs of thousands of ageing residents over six decades, it’s no surprise Fairview Village hosts a spiders web of social and family connections within its walls – some spanning generations.

Decades-old friends now live down the hallway from each other; current staff care for childhood babysitters, and financial donors past are now residents themselves.

Cropley Wing resident Lois Silcock exemplifies this rich tapestry of connections; her residential living area was named after her second cousin Percy Cropley, one of Fairview Village’s most generous donors.

His money, donated in 1963 and matched three-fold by supplementary government funds, enabled the construction of Fairview Village’s second wing.

“He had no family, so chose himself to give it to Fairview, with the knowledge that whatever he gave would be tripled by government money to build anything “and that’s how this wing was built,” Lois explained.

Lois’ husband Keith Silcock “a well known Warragul identity and local shoe shop proprietor“ spent many years on the Fairview Village board, his contribution later attracting an appointment as Life Governor of Fairview Homes for the Aged in 1997.

Lois herself was instrumental in the community-led fundraising boon during Fairview Village’s establishing years; as a member of the Women’s Auxiliary, she sold cakes and home wares in an immensely popular annual fete store.

And the connections continue: Lois’ first cousin Ray Cropley currently lives in Fairview Village’s independent living units, visiting Lois regularly as did her brother Ben Cropley, “We’re all buddies in here now too – A lot of Cropley descendants have lived here.”

Reflecting back on Fairview Village’s founding period 60 years ago, Lois said she couldn’t imagine the West Gippsland community without it.

“It’s just such a wonderful history here, and it’s 60th anniversary – goodness me! Fairview Village has just been a wonderful asset to the town really. It goes far and wide, what would we do without it?”

Bert's Stormy Fairview Introduction

Any given day you'll catch Cropley Wing resident Bert Rance triking around Fairview Village.

Beyond the trove of rich family connections within Fairview Village’s Cropley Wing lay another interesting chapter.

For Fairview Village resident Bert Rance, his first memories of the Cropley Wing are somewhat “stormier” than most, harking back to one blustery evening in 2002

“I was in the SES that night when this ‘mini tornado’ tore through Warragul, and Fairview village got the brunt of it,” Bert recalled his fateful introduction to Fairview Village.

Powerful winds had lashed at the Village throughout the evening, perched high up on one of Warragul’s highest hills.

While resident’s accounts of the damage vary, there’s unanimous agreement on one fact, a roof section was torn off the Cropley Wing.

“The roof came off, we were called and up we came. So we got the roof straightened out, called the builders in, they were working to no end in the morning to get if fixed.”

Fourteen years later, Bert, aged 87, is now a Cropley Wing resident with his wife Doreen, where he remains a member of the SES and one of Fairview Village’s most active community service advocates.

The Faces of Fairview Village – Christine & Ron

Living in comfort at Fairview Village in their independent living unit since 2011.

With more than 30 couples living together within Fairview Village’s independent units and apartments, there’s bound to be some cracking tales of romance, heartbreak, and memorable first dates.

Take Christine and Ron Mason, proud Fairview Village residents for the last five years, whose first date was ‘cracking’ for another reason.

The year was 1956. Ron was working on the railways installing the Gippsland line’s first electrical overheads, and New Year’s Eve was fast approaching.

The pair-to-be had already crossed paths some 8 years earlier when Christine thought Ron a “pretty good sort” – and as fate had it, mutual acquaintances brought them together again for the local New Year’s dance.

But the dance date was sabotaged before it even began; Christine had that day put herself in hospital with a broken leg, in a tractor accident she remembers with cartoonish clarity.

“I was standing on the draw bar, bounced right up off the tractor, bounced back down, and it was all over,” Christine said. “I didn’t end up at the dance that night, so we went to the drive-in instead.”

It was fast moving from there for the railroad worker and the power industry general’s assistant, whose shared involvement in the Presbyterian and later Uniting Church – first brought them to Fairview Village.

“We visited quite a few of the folk who lived at Fairview. I remember driving and picking up passengers on Sundays and taking them to Church,” Ron recollected.

“We used to have an evening fellowship group. We used to meet and laugh and say in the years to come we’ll all be together up at Fairview, and that has happened to a degree,” Christine said.

Christine and Ron's wedding day.

As the decades passed, Christine and Ron brought another three generations into the Mason family, lived active church lives, and made countless repeat trips to their favourite holiday destination Harvey Bay.

Having reached their 80’s, Ron and Christine found themselves considering the next step in their lives, moving into Fairview Village’s independent living units where they’ve continued to live active social lives in the knowledge support is always there if they need it.

“Fairview Village has been absolutely fantastic. We enjoy the fellowship of the residents, and get a good roast meal every Wednesday. I still enjoy visiting old friends who are over in the hostel,”” Ron said.

“We were really looking forward to getting here and we’ve been happy since the day we moved in. We’ve never looked back,” Christine said.

The Founding Years of Fairview Village – Part 2

Fairview Homes was opened with great fanfare in 1960 by the Federal Minister for Social Services Mr Robertson.

As one of Gippsland’s longest running not-for-profit charities, Fairview Village owes its very existence to the goodwill of those who wholeheartedly believed in its founding vision.

That vision was to provide affordable aged care for the elderly, and it captured the hearts and minds of so many, displayed by the chartable willingness of individuals, groups and organisations to donate their time, money and resources to the cause.

Fairview Village’s honorary secretary Joe Ridley found himself swept up in the cause, voluntarily balancing their books from 1959 to 1966 as he worked as West Gippsland Hospital’s full time finance manager.

“I must’ve been emotionally attached because I spent many years doing the administration part of it for no pay. I think I got a little honorarium a bit later on for about 10 pound a year,” Mr Ridley recollected.

“Well I thought there was a job to do and figured I could manage it, although I didn’t really have any spare time.”

Mr Ridley eventually passed Fairview Village’s secretarial baton onto his close friend Lindsay Muirhead, who volunteered 10 years of his life to the role.

“Lindsay did that part of it for no reward either, so it was quite a contribution he made for a good number of years,” Mr Ridley said.

The list of community contributors to the Fairview Village cause is too extensive to list in full, however Mr Ridley noted the services of Arthur Gibson (President 1964 – 1966), Keith Nielson (President 1962 – 1964) John Eve (President 1971 – 1974).

All were inspired by the founding vision of inaugural President Phil McDonald (1955 – 1962) whose leadership is honoured in a Foundation Stone laid in Fairview Village’s first unit, which stands till this day.

“Their role with Fairview Village’s establishment and their contribution should all be recognised. They were all very public spirited people that benefited the community as well as Fairview.”

Such grassroots collaborations were instrumental in Fairview Village becoming one of the first aged care facilities in Australia to receive government funding from both State and Federal levels.

“We got it from two directions so it was a very big deal, we were very lucky.”

“But in the earlier stages before that funding came through, much of what we did depended on donations from the community,” Mr Ridley said.

“We had the Women’s Auxiliary established which did a great job of fundraising. There were stalls established and all kinds of produce and goods for sale at the fete. That day always raised a good lot of money.”

As an original Women’s Auxiliary member, Fairview Village resident Lois (Cropley) Silcock can remember Warragul’s sweet tooth playing a huge role in early fundraising fortunes.

“I can remember very vividly the fetes. We were down at that marquee and there would be cake under the table, on the table, up the back – all in boxes, but it would be all gone by 11am, Mrs Silcock recollected.

‘What we made down at that fete was just unreal. Within an hour and a half we’d made $200 to $400 dollars… It was bedlam.”

The Founding Years of Fairview Village – Part 1

Fairview Homes was opened with great fanfare in 1960 by the Federal Minister for Social Services Mr Robertson.

Few West Gippsland organisations have captured the goodwill, compassion and community spirit displayed at Fairview Village.

As the region’s first aged care service forged through fierce cooperation between local governments, organisations and spirited community members “Fairview Village was a pathfinder in its efforts to better quality of living for the elderly.

Officially opened in 1960 by the then Federal Minister for Social Services to great fanfare, Mr Robertson said the home was a tribute to the people of the three local shires, and would receive every possible support from the Federal Government.

“These things must come from the hearts and souls of the people and I want to say how profoundly grateful I am to the people for rising to the occasion so splendidly,” Mr Robertson, as quoted in the Warragul Gazette.

For original committee member Alan Pugh, who as a young family man quickly became swept up in the public push to bring aged care to West Gippsland, Fairview’s formation was an “obvious” solution to drastic social change at the time.

“The economy had changed dramatically in the post-war years, Australian families had more money and were becoming more mobile, which led to some mums and dads or grandmas and grandpas needing a place to be cared for,” Mr Pugh said this month.

While aged care is a service now taken for granted, Mr Pugh said it was very much a new concept in the 1950s, when the frail and elderly were “needlessly” occupying beds at the West Gippsland Hospital.

The pursuits of the community led paradigm shift soon paid off under the leadership of Chairman Phil MacDonald, with West Gippsland Hospital donating 5 acres of land at the meagre price of one pound per acre.

“As we developed a not for profit model, which was not a term we used in those days, the money started to flow in, and the community saw there were enough funds to start building on this site,” Mr Pugh said.

Fairview Village soon became one of the first Australian aged care services to receive state and federal funding, in addition to generous donations from local citizens, local governments, the Warragul Auxiliary and other organisations.

The Faces of Fairview Village – Meg & Roy Edwards

60 Years Banner
A “very short” courtship in 1964 led to a lifelong love affair for Meg and Roy, not only with each other, but with Warragul and the Fairview Village community.

When local identities Meg and Roy Edwards relocated their lives to Fairview Village’s independent living units in November 2010, a welcoming neighbor asked whether they had met anyone new.

“You’ve got to be kidding?!” Meg recalls having replied; “We already knew everyone here before we arrived!”

Little did the welcoming neighbour know, Meg and Roy’s association with Fairview Village and Warragul stretched back five decades, to when Roy first blew brass in the local Salvation Army band, playing hymn tunes to some of Fairview Village’s very first residents.

Having provided housing and care to thousands of the region’s elderly over the years, Fairview Village’s not-for-profit model is steeped in proud charity spirit and goodwill.

Formed by a committee of proactive community members in the 1950s, Fairview Village pioneered aged care in the region during a time when West Gippsland Hospital was the only refuge for elderly in need of care.

Roy recalls his first impressions as a 20-year-old of Fairview Village as a “very new and very small” community.

Running a bottle collection business and shoe shop during his working life, Roy’s larger-than-life character existed long before his Fairview Village years as one of Warragul’s best known local entrepreneurs.

“I had the shoe shop for 22 years and knew possibly everybody on the street. I couldn’t name them all, but knew them all by face,” Roy said.

As the town grew, so did Fairview Village, expanding its services and accommodation year by year, thanks to vigorous fundraising efforts in the community.

All the while Meg and Roy’s service to Fairview Village and the community continued through the Salvation Army until 2010, when Fairview Village became another influence on their lives.

“We hadn’t initially thought of coming here to live, but had been in the same house in Warragul for 44 years, and it came to the point we had too many steps front and back, but we couldn’t modify the house,” Meg said.

“We just came and had a bit of a look at Fairview Village on an open day and decided this would solve all our problems. It would be perfect.”

Moving in six years ago, Meg and Roy quickly found comfort in the spacious independent living units and tight-knit neighbourhood to live out the next chapter of their lives.

“We’ve had a lot of things in our diary out in the Warragul community and that’s been able to continue, so we’ve got the best of both worlds here,” Meg said.

“If you’re thinking about taking this step, you need to come early enough to make a new life for yourself, so it’s not just an afterthought,” Meg said.

“We haven’t looked back, it’s been marvelous.”