In his first year as the National President of Ryder-Cheshire Australia, Rory McEwen, has recently returned from a visit to Raphael. Below is his report.
My visit to Raphael commenced with two one day trips, the first into the foothills of the Himalayas where our jeep driver managed to deliver four of us safely to a small school in a tiny village to meet with around 50 parents and their disabled children. The journey along narrow winding mountain roads was not for the faint hearted. Marvelling at the women struggling up steep inclines, almost buried in huge loads of vegetation balanced on their heads, took our minds off the perils of the journey.
The gathering that awaited us at the end of our four hour trek had assembled for a briefing on managing and modifying challenging behaviours and to discuss sexuality and the disabled. Our talented presenters spoke in Hindi. Luckily the accompanying slides were in English so I could get some feel for the animated discussion. Some of the parents, particularly the men, didn’t seem to take kindly to some of the frank discussions but it was an overwhelming success. Continue reading NATIONAL PRESIDENT, RORY MCEWEN, VISITS RAPHAEL→
It is with a heavy heart, we inform you about the sad demise of Bhola, one of our permanent residents who came to Raphael in 1959, the year of our establishment and left for his heavenly abode on 2nd January 2017.
Life has unexpected twists and turns and often what seems to be the very end may turn out to be the beginning of a beautiful story – a story of reaching out, of love and care, of helping hands extended in assistance to fellow travellers in life’s remarkable journey. Such has been the story of Bhola’s life. It is one which touches the well spring of human compassion, tenderness in human interaction and it spans countries. Continue reading BHOLA The gentle man who touched so many hearts→
The Roman Catholic Diocese of East Anglia in the United Kingdom where Leonard Cheshire lived, is launching a campaign in early September, 2017 to celebrate the centenary of his birth. It is hoped that the campaign will inspire an ongoing community of prayer and eventual canonisation in a process of discovery leading to possible sainthood.
Leonard Cheshire was the most decorated British servicemen in World War II. An RAF pilot, he conducted over 100 bombing missions. He was also the leader of the famous ‘Dambuster Squadron’ (No 617), noted for flying low over the water in sending the skipping bombs towards their target.
He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1940 (with two bars in 1943 and 1944), the Distinguished Flying Cross in 1941 and the Victoria Cross in 1944. In 1945 he was selected by Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, to represent the British Government as an observer at the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki in Japan. Continue reading Promoting the Possible Canonisation of Leonard Cheshire→
In February 1979, Leonard Cheshire spoke at the Combined Service Clubs Dinner in Singleton and referred to seeing young physically disabled people in nursing homes before their time, and the need for a group house for the 18 to 35 age group.
Thereon, we formed the Singleton Ryder-Cheshire Support Group (umpteen cake stalls, art shows, etc.) The local community and service clubs were generous. We sold cards and sponsored Raphael residents.
In April 1985, after years of fund-raising, we purchased “Locksley”, a six bedroom 1890 weatherboard house with a large garden and back lane access, not far from the shopping centre and the RSL Club. The announcement was made with both Leonard and Sue present. The house was ramped and renovated to allow total access for someone with up to a T6 paraplegia. On the 30th November 1985, with neither of our Founders able to attend, we officially opened the home with a pottery exhibition by Sonja Witt, who had run the first Singleton Pre-School in this house. In 1992, we created a memorial garden on the death of Leonard Cheshire, with Air Marshal Jake Newham, Josephine Collins, Barbara Lewis and Joan Usher in attendance. In 2000, we unveiled another plaque on the death of Sue Ryder.
Over the years, 75 people have benefited either as long term, short-term, or overnight residents. Many availed of the local Home Care Service which extended to personal care. One person, mute and quadriplegic, stayed eight years, and went tandem sky-diving at weekends. There was a period where we partnered with Hunter Carer Respite to give carers a break. Residents loved the home, the garden, the space, and the comparative independence we offered. There were nine years when Witmore Enterprises used the facility for Daily Living Skills programs for young adults with developmental disabilities There were three eras of the house being occupied by families in need because of a heavily disabled member, including a young family with a boy with quadriplegia and four other children. For two and a half years, Integrated Living facilitated their community advisory services, occasional overnight respite accommodation and craft, cooking, gardening and education courses for aboriginal groups.
Unfortunately, with the recent NDIS changes to disability pensions, care-giving facilitators can no longer commit to agreements and no occupants were forthcoming. After 31 years (37 years for our aging committee), we made the huge decision to sell the home.
Leonard Cheshire said “If too many obstacles present, you are on the wrong track of the LP record”. It was time. The proceeds of sale and all of our funds are being distributed to Ryder-Cheshire projects – Raphael, Klibur Domin, Mt. Gambier home and Nardy House in Bega
‘Our application for a Federal Grant for the second Ryder-Cheshire Mt Gambier Home has been successful. Tony Pasin MP, our local member, announced the Grant on Monday 31st July when he visited the home.
Over the last two months we have been finalising building plans, which we had to have ready regardless, as the terms of receiving a grant require us to commence the project within 90 days. Once tenders are finalised we expect to begin construction before the end of the year and would hope to open the second home by October 2018.
The budget for the new home is $1.2m of which the Federal Grant is $537,000. The balance is being financed by significant donations, our cash reserves and a bank loan. The grant from RCA of $100,000 is greatly appreciated and again I thank the RCA Board for the support of our project. Similarly, the donation of $100,000 from the sale of the Ryder-Cheshire Singleton was a major contribution to our budget. There have also been several smaller but still significant donations.
This second home will make a significant difference to the lives of another five young disabled members of our community. It will also greatly enhance and further the image of Ryder-Cheshire both locally and on the wider front.’
Neville Gilbertson, Chairman Ryder-Cheshire Mt Gambier Home Board
Some history pre Friday 31st July 2017 as reported in the Ryder-Cheshire Mt Gambier Home Newsletter, June 2017
When we received the disappointing news that our bid for National Stronger Regions Fund funding had failed the Mt Gambier Home Board was determined that if there was a next time we would put in a better bid.
Member for Barker, Mr Tony Pasin, advised us of a new Building Better Regions Fund (BBRF) that became available in early 2017.
In order to improve our chances, we commissioned architect Stephen Herbert to redraw the concept plan to include some suggested improvements and to get the build costed by an independent cost consultant Mr Chris Sale. This was done so that we would be able to say we were “shovel ready” and we would be able to sign a contract with the Government within 90 days if we were advised that we were successful.
We submitted an application for BBRF funding in late February.
Last December we approached Council to discuss the possible siting of the home and were advised that we would need to seek a road closure. It is not really a closure but more a rationalisation to match the existing logical boundary. Council graciously agreed to pay all reasonable costs. This follows the Council’s donation of the land now over 10 years ago. This process is time consuming but our surveyor has provided all the information to Council and all approvals are now in place. Now it is a matter for the Lands Title Office to register the change.
To ensure that we are ready to proceed we contracted architect Stephen Herbert to draw up detailed plans and specifications, to seek council approval, and to obtain fixed price quotes for the build. This has the advantage of minimising any financial risk to the Board.
The new plan builds on our experience with the current home and is expected to be even more satisfactory for the residents. Access has been a challenge but we believe we have a workable plan that maximises the garden space.
Discussions with Stephen have continued over the last six months and we believe that we now have a plan that will meet the needs for five new occupants.
We now await the decisions by the Federal government as to whether we have been successful or not.