Carinity Shalom residents share amazing life journeys
Our seniors have fascinating stories to tell. Three residents of the Carinity Shalom aged care community in Rockhampton shared with us some of their fondest memories.
John ‘Cossie’ Doyle
‘Cossie’ is a keen music fan and guitar player who has one golden rule – only country music allowed!
He still strums on his guitar, after having previously performed in halls, retirement homes and other venues around Rockhampton for many years. Cossie also volunteered in juvenile justice and prisons.
“I love music, country music. It’s got to be country, all the good stuff,” Cossie said.
The 91-year-old, who hails from the Aboriginal township of Woorabinda in central Queensland, also entertained as an amateur welterweight boxing champion in the 1950s.
He competed around Queensland, including fighting several Australian champions as well as the travelling boxing crowd-pleaser, Don ‘Bronco’ Johnson.
Cossie featured in more than 200 amateur boxing bouts, suffering only a handful of losses, before seven bouts as a professional. He took up the sport as a teenager.
“I went to Cherbourg and got into a bit of boxing down there. I didn’t want to have a go, it was just something to do. Rugby league was my main game, I liked it better,” he said.
“I am what I am. I just get out and do what I can, if I can.”
Born with a clubbed foot in Halifax, England, she lived in an infirmary for much of her childhood.
“When I was six weeks old, I went to Leeds Royal Infirmary and spent the best part of the next 11 years there,” Rhoda said.
“Because I was a cripple, I didn’t fit in. Spending so much time in hospital, that was my home in my eyes.”
After leaving school at 14 and moving to London during World War II, Rhoda made blankets to support the war effort.
She later worked as a nanny for some of England’s wealthiest families, one of which “had more money than they knew what do with.”
“One of the last families I worked with were related to people who were ‘big bugs’. They had a cottage on the Royal Estate at Windsor, so we used to go there,” Rhoda said.
In the 1950s, Rhoda emigrated to Australia with her two sons and her husband, who had served in the army in India.
The family moved to Townsville – Rhoda recalls arriving on the train from Brisbane at four o’clock in the morning – before later settling in Rockhampton.
Brisbane, Hobart, Moscow, London, Rockhampton. Adrienne has called many cities home over the years.
“My grandmother told me, ‘There’s no need to get married just because your friends are. You get out and see the world’ – and that’s what I did,” Adrienne said.
“I lived in Russia for a few years working as a nanny for a British Embassy family That was an incredible experience,” Adrienne said.
“At a party in Moscow one night this voice behind me said, ‘What the bloody hell are you doing here?’ It was a girl I’d been in Girl Guides with in Hobart who was working at the Australian Embassy.”
Adrienne later cared for orphans at a children’s home in London, including disadvantaged youth from Glasgow who “came from the most appalling areas”.
“I taught the kids to swim, which was fun,” Adrienne said.
Back in Australia she worked as a bailiff around central Queensland, including court work as far west as Longreach.
“I would either be taking someone to court or a solicitor or I would do property settlements,” she said.
“It was interesting work. I met a lot of interesting people – one person threatened to shoot me – and did a lot of travelling. I went through three cars!”
The keen gardener is a Life Member of Central Queensland Community Legal Centre, which supports financially disadvantaged people, and those from culturally diverse backgrounds, to access legal support.