There’s no friend like an old friend
What’s better than having a friendship that has lasted many decades? Several Aura Holdings’ residents believe the answer is having an old friend who becomes a neighbour.
In contrary to the Neighbours’ theme song when Ramsay Street locals end up becoming good friends, across Aura’s communities several residents were already very good friends before they became neighbours. Both old and new friendships are cherished in our retirement living villages.
Valerie and Beverley
Kingsford Terrace Corinda neighbours Beverley St George and Valerie Donovan met as student nurses at St Martin’s Hospital that was once next to St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane’s CBD. Their enduring friendship spans 70 years.
Val recalls: “I was sitting on my bed in the nurses’ quarters one afternoon between shifts and in walked this girl who threw her big picture hat on the bed, went to the mirror, fluffed up her blonde hair and said ‘I’m Beverley Walker’. We were both 18 and had recently finished school.’’
After completing their four-year training, Val (left) and Bev (right) set off for London taking a six-week voyage. “We had a lovely time on the ship,’’ Bev says, while Val adds: “We learnt to drink on that ship!’’
After many adventures and lots of travelling on their bicycles, Val and Bev returned to Australia and headed to the Melbourne Royal Women’s Hospital for midwifery training. “Seeing a baby born for the first time blew us away by the miracle of it all,’’ says Bev.
Later, Val worked at the respected Peter MacCallum Cancer Clinic and became one of the first oncology nurses while Bev did district nursing.
They both found love through a holiday which Val took to Hayman Island. “That’s where I met John Donovan and because of that Bev met Toby St George. Our marriages all stemmed from that holiday,’’ Val says. “I can still picture Toby on the dance floor in a very crumpled shirt.’’
Bev explains: “When he came to our unit while I was packing my suitcase so untidily to go home, Toby always claimed that he told himself ‘That’s the girl for me!’’ Val chimes in: “So they lived in an untidy state for the next 50 years.’’
The friends had their families but kept in regular contact over the years. “We always stayed in touch, no matter where we lived. We even went on holidays together,’’ Val says.
After a suggestion from Bev, the two couples ended up buying apartments off-the-plan in the Litchfield building, the first built at Kingsford Terrace Corinda.
Val and Bev agree there are many benefits of living so close to your ‘bestie’. They were there to support each other at their most difficult times, including the loss of their husbands.
“We would help one another at the drop of a hat,’’ says Bev. “But we are very good because we don’t live in each other’s pockets and we give each other space. We’re not possessive about our friendship.’’
Val agrees that the pair have “branched out and made many other close friendships at Kingsford Terrace’’.
It’s helpful having such a long-time friend on hand. “When I refer to other people there’s no need to explain to Beverley as she knows all the people I am talking about,’’ Val says.
Fran and Mary
When Fran Ralston moved into her new apartment at Aura’s northside community, The Atrium Lutwyche, in January 2021 one of her first visitors was Mary Bryant, a friend of more than 50 years. Now Mary is one of Fran’s neighbours at The Atrium!
“I met Mary (pictured right) through a shared house in Coorparoo when I was a teacher at Mt Carmel Coorparoo and she was a nurse caring for premmie babies at the Mater Mothers,’’ Fran says. “Mary’s role was arduous and emotionally taxing, and she was encouraged to find another career - which she did, in the air force. That’s where Mary met her husband - a helicopter test pilot. Sadly, Mary’s husband died and she relocated back to Brisbane, the mother of three young and energetic boys.
“I would visit Mary once a week to help with the boys’ bathing, feeding and eventually adding homework supervision. Whenever I thought I should perhaps be ‘tying the knot’ and starting a family myself, Mary would ask me to babysit - and that sorted out any dream-like visions I had of possible parenthood.
“When her boys were a little older, Mary and I travelled overseas together - Italy, and then to South America, the Galapagos, Russia and Canada and more recently a cruise to New Zealand. Travelling has stayed with us as a shared interest.
“Mary also liked the idea of living at The Atrium - the location is near where she grew up, close to the city and not too far from a group of her long-term friends. It’s a very welcoming and sociable place. It is also an environment where you can enjoy the privacy of your own company.
“At The Atrium we have both made new friends whilst each maintaining the friendships made over the years. I must say that it’s wonderful having a close and long-time friend living here, one that shares some of your history and your story.
“One of the joys is having that occasional end of the day gin and tonic with ‘an old mate’.’’
To find out more about Aura's retirement living communities, click here.