Our oldest volunteer reflects on history

Max Gilmore is Christadelphian Aged Care's oldest volunteer.

My name is Max Gilmore and as the oldest volunteer for Christadelphian Aged Care, I’ve been asked to comment on the history of the site on which Southhaven stands and my time and experience as a volunteer. 

In 1946, when the decision was made to establish Christadelphian Homes, the board commenced to look for suitable premises and in 1947 purchased “Woodstock”.

Woodstock was a large two storey home on a large corner block in Redmyre Road in Strathfield. This had been the Starkey family home, Starkey being a well-known soft drink manufacturer at the time. Volunteers helped to prepare the home for the first residents and for subsequent additions that were made. I was one of the volunteers.

In 1969, the Board decided to build further aged care accommodation and two properties were purchased in Queensbury Road, Padstow Heights, with this in mind. One of these was number 11 and was owned by my Aunty and before the bridge was built over the Saltpan Creek; houses along the creek were known as “weekenders” or holiday houses. I remember visiting my Aunt for the weekend in 1935 when I was 10.

Around 1974, plans were made to build four blocks of self-care units and a Hostel at number 11 Queensbury Road. I can’t remember which were finished first but I do remember that for some years I organised Saturday “working bees” when volunteers from the Christadelphian community spent the day at “Southhaven” carrying out a multitude of tasks. Many of the volunteers were tradesmen so we were able to do most jobs that were necessary.

Some of you may have wondered what the two signs are all about on the road way down to the back of Riverside – these were installed around 1985. The one saying “Angina Hill” speaks for itself based on the steepness of the slop. The other “Ackermans Leap” gets its name from when a resident who lived in the self-care units drove his V8 Ford for the last time. He was driving down the hill and accelerated rather than braked and his V8 Ford leaped into the bush, landing some two metres lower than the road. Ackerman and his passenger walked away unhurt.

Around 1985, it became obvious that a larger nursing home was needed and having acquired the land, the Board decided to build the nursing home (Treetops) at Southhaven. The nursing home was completed in 1992 and was subsequently expanded in later years.

I retired from my job as Administrative Officer, Government Supply Department in 1985 and was then able to expand my volunteering activities when required. I remember a phone call from John Dawson (the Administrator at the time) who asked me “Do you want a job?” I said “Like what?”. He said go over to Redmyre Road, Strathfield and sell everything we’ve left behind. This meant everything because Southhaven was fully equipped and the items at Strathfield were surplus to requirements.

In 2017, the new link building was opened and is a great success. The cafe provides a great service to the residents and families.

Anyway, things are a lot quieter these days which I am grateful for at 92. With our new Volunteer Co-ordinator, who is doing a great job, I only do what I’m registered for. I now water the pot plants, lead the Bible readings once a month, and help serve in the cafe. See you there for a coffee

– Max Gilmore, Southhaven volunteer