News & Events

A familiar voice at Rushall Park

September 30, 2016

Ken Bell from Rushall Park

Ken Bell gets you in once he starts telling a story. Not only are they interesting stories but he delivers them in the same engaging voice he used during his years as an ABC presenter, or announcer as they were called in those days.

For the past four years Ken and his wife, Holly, have lived at Rushall Park. But he has covered a lot of territory over the years. Ken was born in South Africa and moved to Melbourne at the age of seven. An early formative experience was a year spent in Europe, in the early 1950s, backpacking and doing odd jobs. It was still a war-scarred Europe but a great opportunity to get to know people from both sides of the conflict.

After some years working in commercial radio Ken joined the ABC in 1957.  He said that, “one was expected to be a Jack of all trades. For example on one day you may be asked to narrate a radio play in the afternoon, compere a town hall concert (with celebrities such as Yehudi Menuhin and Sir Malcolm Sargent) in the evening and fly to Canberra early the next morning for parliamentary broadcasts”.

“Our department serviced Radio Australia’s English service 24/7 which included long and frequent news bulletins, phrased and paced for short wave transmission.  One half hour news bulletin, for Australian embassies abroad and ships at sea had to be read at dictation speed—-not a popular chore,” Ken said.

Travelling in Europe on long service leave, Ken and Holly were attracted to Scandinavian design and decided to embark on a new career. Together they established The Norway Shop, importing furniture, textiles, jewellery etc. much of it from small design groups in fairly remote parts of Norway and Norwegian Lapland. It was a stimulating challenge for the couple until retirement in the mid 1990s.

Holly and Ken have maintained a keen love of music but live concerts are no longer manageable. Instead, they subscribe to the Berlin Philharmonic concert season on line.  They are also keen members of the Rushall Park music appreciation group, which was established five years ago by resident Robert Hooke, who is still its leader. The group meets twice monthly and people enjoy CDs, DVDs and occasional live performances.

“There seems no age barrier for the enjoyment of fine music;  our last program was chosen and presented most beautifully by a ninety nine year old member of the group,” he said.

The music appreciation group is one of a many groups at Rushall Park catering for a variety of tastes and interests, which Ken believes is “a great boon especially to those living alone”.

“We have been made welcome by both staff and residents since our arrival four years ago. It’s a privilege to share this unique experience. May this lovely garden village prosper in the uncertain years ahead,” he said.

I love the ‘magimix’ of people who make up the community and that it is a safe and happy place to live. - Jo Portlock

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