Our men are far from retiring types
The men who live in Aura Holdings’ retirement communities enjoy active and fulfilled lives with a variety of interests. Many of their favourite activities are held within their villages with gardening, social or fitness interests, while others have hobbies in their wider communities. We talk to four of our residents who share some of the things they love to do.
Len Paarman thrives on his involvement in his local Men’s Shed. The national Men’s Shed Association is hugely popular and Len points out that there are now more Men’s Sheds in Australia (1,000) than McDonald’s outlets (970).
Len says there are seven or eight other residents at his Kingsford Terrace Corinda retirement community who are members of the men’s sheds in Brisbane’s inner southwestern suburbs.
He attends the Centenary Suburbs Men’s Shed after joining in 2012. “Our Men’s Shed is now quite an extensive complex after launching from a trailer. I attend weekly and I always have some little project on the go.
“Often when men retire it challenges their whole identity. They might have worked 40 or 50 years and then the very next day that no longer exists. You need a sense of purpose and a place to go. The camaraderie that exists at a Men’s Shed is amazing. The members might be scattered in the garden, welding, making a model ship, then it’s smoko time and 20-30 blokes sit down together at a long table and an extraordinary connection occurs.’’
One of Len’s projects was restoring a model of a clipper ship and working on building a display case with the assistance of other members.
Len’s other love is model trains and he has quite a collection, among his favourites are models of the ICE high-speed train, American freight trains and European steam engines.
As a member of the Western Suburbs Railway Modellers, Len has brought the group’s displays to Kingsford Terrace where around 70 interested members of the local community attended earlier this year. Len says he uncovered “two other closet model train collectors amongst the KT residents’’. He is planning another model train show at the village in September.
Len and his wife Pauline will transfer to Aura Holdings’ Gold Coast retirement community, The Pavilion North Kirra, when construction is completed later this year. Len says he will need to find a new local Men’s Shed and will actively encourage his new Kirra neighbours to join him.
Ted Pattison, a champion sportsman, says the lifestyle at The Avenue Maroochydore helps keep him fit and healthy. The walls of Ted’s apartment are covered in framed memories of his impressive sporting career on the water and on the football field.
“Water skiing was the highlight of my sporting life even though I did pretty well at surf club, rugby union and rugby league, won an A-grade premiership and coached Queensland Schoolboy sides,’’ he says.
Ted moved into his apartment at The Avenue Maroochydore from Brisbane a week before Christmas 2020 and is thriving in the coastal lifestyle that he says is helping maintain his fitness.
“I now have two tin hips after all the jumps from skiing because you land and hit the ramp around 60-70mph,’’ Ted says. “But I had wonderful results from surgery so I go to the gym at The Avenue for an hour-and-a-half on four or five days a week, can do full squats with my new hips and in my apartment have dumb-bells and bar bells. I also do laps in our lovely magnesium pool and always feel good when I swim there. I go down to Cotton Tree and walk to Alexandra Headland and back most days and some days have a surf. I’ve joined three surf clubs around here.
“So now I’m here and I love it. We have a lovely ‘happy hour’ every Friday night for the residents and I’ve made so many friends. Life is good.’’
A group of the male residents at The Atrium Lutwyche head out on Friday afternoons to bond over a few refreshments at their local, The Crown Hotel. Peter Harris says the gathering is very informal and there is no structure, just whoever is available takes the short stroll across the road, so no driving needed!
“We don’t get into too much trouble and there is no secret men’s business,’’ Peter says. “It’s been really good actually, an informal way to get to know each other a little better in a casual gathering. We just talk about whatever is happening in the world.’’
At Kingsford Terrace Corinda, stored in a quiet corner of one of the underground car parks, is the pride and joy of resident Merv Braithwaite. The Jaguar E-type Series 1 coupe has been owned by Merv for 25 years but it was only in retirement that he was able to spend the six years to fully restore it.
Owning an E-type Jag has always been Merv’s goal. “It has to be one of the most iconic vehicles in the world,’’ he says. The car was originally sold in Brisbane in 1965, damaged early in its life and sat neglected in a shed until Merv came along. “I was lucky to find it. I’ve totally restored it and now it’s in its original colours.’’
Merv says the Jag is a delight to own but a little hard to drive without the benefits of power-steering and air-conditioning. But Merv and his wife Margaret are looking forward to spending more time on the road in the Jag now they are well settled into their new apartment at Corinda after moving in early 2021.