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.”