News & Events

Bette stops to smell the roses

June 21, 2017

Bette Allen sits at her dining table ruminating over letters in the alphabet. Her computer savvy friends in neighbouring Rushall Park cottages are playing word games on their iPads and Bette is anxious to make a contribution. She taps away on the screen and laughs as she completes a word. It’s just one of the many activities she has become involved in since she came to Rushall Park more than a decade ago.

The table is just a few steps from her back garden, which she loves – so do many of the other residents. They affectionately call her garden, with its expansive outdoor furniture setting and umbrella, the ‘village pump’.

People stop for a chat and when Bette is there alone she loves looking around at the gardens and the famous Rushall Park cottage chimneys.

“Every day I think I am the luckiest person alive to be here. I have freedom to go where I want and at the same time I feel safe and secure,” Bette said.

Bette’s move to Rushall Park from her home in Mooroolbark ‘rescued’ her from a dark period in her life. She had been on the waitlist for more than five years when in 2005 her beloved son, Christopher, died in Spain. She contacted management and asked if anything could be done to speed up her move into a cottage, as she desperately needed to start over. They worked quickly to speed up her move.

Bette, a widow, moved into her 1892 cottage just a few months after her son’s death and the life and energy at Rushall Park has been instrumental in her healing. In return, Bette has thrown herself into village life and supported committees and projects run at the village. Her daughter, Ali, who once lived in the Clifton Hill area, is also a familiar face, teaching yoga every Thursday in the community centre.

Bette is also a regular at the Rushall Park kiosk that operates for six months of each year over spring and autumn. She cooks each week and in recent times has become the kiosk’s ‘checkout lady’. Morning tea or coffee with cakes is served and money raised goes back into village facilities.

“Working in the kiosk is really lots of fun, but it also supports the village and the community of people who live here,” Bette said.

For five and half years Bette was on the Activities Committee and some of that time as vice-president. While she is still a keen participant in the activities, including fortnightly happy hour and monthly excursions, she has retired from any organizing roles.

“These sorts of things help to make this such a lovely community because people look out for one another and just do their bit, whatever they can manage,” she said.

Bette was recently honoured for a decade of volunteer work at Rushall Park.

 

 

“Our home has always been a place where family and friends are welcome.  Our cottage at Rushall Park is no different and the community of friends here is important to us and that’s why their work is part of my art box,” Jennifer Barden said.

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