The volunteer

Bruce Murray moved into Lakeside Retirement Village in Bonnells Bay NSW 17 years ago and finds fulfilment in helping others.

When my wife Dorothy and I moved into Lakeside Retirement Village, it was because we were travelling a lot. Our daughter lives down the bottom of Western Australia in Busselton and when we visit her, it’s nice knowing that our place is looked after while we’re away. This Christmas, we’re going to visit her for a month. We always feel safe leaving our home thanks to the sense of security here. 

There’s plenty to enjoy here on a day-to-day basis and always so much happening.  We’ve made plenty of friends. Dorothy plays indoor bowls, we both play table tennis and every Monday we drive to the tennis court and have a game. We love tennis – in fact, we met on a tennis court more than 60 years ago, playing opposite each other. I’ve just turned 83 and Dorothy’s 79, so it’s a game we’ve been playing for a while – especially considering we’ve been married 58 years!

Retirement keeps us very busy. We’ve been in the village for 17 years, and 16 years ago we started the Welfare Group. It’s a volunteer group to help residents who’ve been sick, injured or in hospital, and we’re on call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. We have an arsenal of hospital equipment – everything from wheelchairs and crutches to walkers and shower chairs, and if anyone needs anything – they can borrow it. We started off with only three pieces of equipment, since then, Lendlease has built us a storage room to keep it all in because we have so much. 

There are 262 villas at Lakeside and 354 residents which is a lot of people. There are only a few very new residents I don’t know. Being in the Welfare Group, you meet everyone. As soon as someone new moves in we send them a note listing all the equipment we have available should the need it. We also supply a list to all hospital occupational therapists and rehab so if anybody is in there ready to come home to the village from hospital, they contact us directly, tell us what they want, and we make sure we have it ready for them.

Before I retired 25 years ago, I worked in the mines. I was a first aid officer up top, in case anyone needed a helicopter or ambulance, so I guess looking after people is something I’ve always done. Nowadays, I make plenty of visits to hospitals and nursing homes to see residents from our villages who have been admitted, or are in rehab facilities, things like that.

Dorothy and I belong to the Wyong Hospital auxiliary. We run barbecues for them at Bunnings and Dorothy and a lot of the ladies here knit beautiful garments to sell in the hospital shop. Last year, along with others, we helped raise $92,000 for the hospital. We were honoured to receive certificates for our volunteer work a few years ago which were presented by the Lake Macquarie Mayor. It makes us feel good to be able to look after people. There’s still so much of life to enjoy. My wife and my family make me so happy. We have two children – our daughter in Busselton and our son in Newcastle, five grandchildren and two-and-a-half great grandchildren – one is on the way.

In my life, I’ve learnt you should always be good to people and if you can help anybody, you should. Getting sick or injured can be a hard, but anything we can do to make life easier for people is worthwhile. I just feel lucky to be able to still run around a tennis court and play three of four sets with my wife, every Monday. It’s great to be alive.


Find out more about Lakeside Retirement Village.