News & Events

Helen’s perfect patch at Rushall Park

February 28, 2019

Helen Shearer has an enviable address. She lives in one of Rushall Park’s beautiful Laidlaw Cottages, built in 1891, shaded by one of the village’s two Queensland Firewheel trees.  It’s been just over a decade since Helen and her daughter, Lisa, inspected the cottage at the North Fitzroy village.

Lisa jokingly told Helen at the time that, “she wouldn’t speak to her again if she didn’t take the cottage”. Helen, 83, needed no such urging, falling in love with the cottage’s high ceilings, period features and large rooms as soon as she stepped inside.

She had lived in Eltham for much of her married life, but was living alone after the death of her husband, Bill.

Ten years down the track Helen is well and truly a part of the Rushall Park community. She has had stints as President and Secretary of the Activities Committee, spent years volunteering on the kiosk, loves her monthly book club gathering and participated in the 2017 and 2018 Fitzroy High School intergenerational project.

She soon made friends at Rushall Park and her friendship group still meets socially each Tuesday night. She also goes to the regular village Happy Hours where she meets some of the newer residents.

“I enjoy the company of people in the village and I loved being part of the Fitzroy High School project both years. I was pleased to have the opportunity to spend time with young people because of their energy and enthusiasm for life. If you are willing to make the time and sit and talk to someone, you can find things in common no matter how big the age difference,” Helen said.

“With four children of my own there were always lots of young people around our house. Now I have the pleasure of grandchildren as well.” In fact, Helen is currently knitting in preparation for the arrival of her first great-grandchild.

Helen doesn’t participate in as many activities as she once did, but still loves her garden where she planted Australian natives and some South African plants – a nod to the country she lived in for ten years with her husband. She met Bill while travelling in England 60 years ago. She met Queen Elizabeth on the same trip!

“Living at Rushall Park offers me plenty of things to do, but it also means I can sit and have a quiet day at home if I feel like it,” she said.

Helen tries to walk most days, either around the local North Fitzroy and Clifton Hill area, where there are plenty more lovely homes and gardens to admire.

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