L-R Kathleen Hindley and Marlene McCaig with memorabillia relating to the St Matthews Cottages which will be holding an open day and fete.
L-R Kathleen Hindley and Marlene McCaig with memorabillia relating to the St Matthews Cottages which will be holding an open day and fete. Chris Ison ROK240418cstmatthews1

Rockhampton aged-care living celebrates jubilee

EARLY in 1968, Charles Bailey and Trevor Wright spearheaded the construction of homes for the aged on St Matthews Anglican Church grounds in Park Avenue, Rockhampton.

Fifty years on, the thriving village is now preparing to celebrate their golden jubilee as independent aged living.

Committee president and caretaker Kathleen Hindley and committee treasurer Marlene McCaig both agree their little community has survived this long because of the residents supportive nature.

Kathleen first moved into the village in June 2004 and Marlene October 2013.

Marlene, who is a self-confessed lover of history, said all of the research both her and Kathleen have done on the village is from a deep respect to those who first pioneered it.

"It was independent living for those who were working class,” Marlene said.

"It was built to be an affordable option.”

In 1967, donations for the start of the building were received from the North Rockhampton Rotary Club ($800), Fitzroy River Lions Club ($200) and St Matthews Building Fund ($1,300). Donations also came from those seeking accommodation within the village.

On March 30 1968 the Right Reverend Anglican Bishop of Rockhampton Donald Sherman officially opened and blessed the village. Since then, each of the 41 cottages have been individually blessed upon opening.

"I always say we have the most blessed little village going,” Marlene smiles.

"If you're ever feeling lonely, all you need to do is go for a walk and someone is always up for having a cuppa and a chat.

"Everybody looks after everybody. It's like old time friendliness.”

"The village was built on community help, and that's exactly what has kept it going all these years,” Kathy said.

With bustling social lives, the village residents keep themselves busy with monthly dinners, a sewing circle, dine-out nights, bus trips and indoor bowls.

"We also have monthly birthday celebrations for anyone whose birthday it is that month,” Kathy said.

"Some of the cottages have only ever had two or three residents since opening, which I think goes to show the great community that has been built,” Marlene said.

"Our eldest resident is 96 years young and she has been a resident for 18 years.”

To celebrate the momentous occasion, St Matthews Cottages will be holding a 50 years fete.

The event is set to take place on Saturday 5 May between 10am - 2pm.

"Half of the village will be closed off and we will even be opening up two of the cottages for people to have a look at,” Marlene said.

"We will have jams, plants, raffles, a bottle stall, multi-draw and plenty more going on.

"A lot of local businesses have donated prizes and many of the village residents have been busy making things.

"The Rockhampton Sunrise Rotary Club will have a food stall on the day as well.”

Walking though the pages of time, Kathy and Marlene have transformed the hall into a memory book of days gone by. Pictures of current and past residents don the walls alongside many The Morning Bulletin articles about the village over the past five decades.

"Some of the residents that have lived here, or do live here are descendants of those who first initiated the building,” Marlene said.

After he was killed during a train accident in November 1968, the Charles Bailey memorial archway across the entrance to St Matthews Village was was built to honour the effort he had undertaken to see the successful provision of homes for the aged.

The North Rockhampton Rotary Club provided a large concrete draught board (pictured above) and a barbecue in 1975.

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