News & Events

Music still fills Lorraine’s days

February 19, 2018

Lorraine Wall’s voice has given joy to thousands of people for close to a century and to many hundreds of Leith Park residents since she arrived 27 years ago. Trained as a coloratura soprano, Lorraine’s voice isn’t what it once was, but music remains a major part of her life.


“Music and singing is a bit like having company with you all the time, because you can sing a song or listen to someone else sing a song,” said Lorraine who turns 90 in April, and is one of the longest ‘serving’ residents at the OCAV village in St Helena.


Lorraine moved into the village in 1991 from nearby Watsonia where she had spent most of her married life. Her timing was perfect. “After my husband, Jack, died, I was talking to our doctor about a retirement village. He gave me good advice. He said don’t move too quickly and don’t leave it too long. I think the time was right for me when I moved here.”


It didn’t take Lorraine long to get involved in village life, starting a choir along with her friend, pianist Pat Ballard and organising bingo in the community hall. Until recently she played carpet bowls in the hall.


“I have run out of puff a bit lately, but I still go to sausage sizzles and films,” she said.  She doesn’t get involved in as many activities these days, but maintains close friendships with many residents.


Lorraine has also kept up her connections in the community, particularly through Watsonia Legacy and Lower Plenty Senior Citizens. Each Wednesday the bus picks her up for a day of activities at Senior Citizens, an outing she is reluctant to miss.


At certain times during the year at residents’ events in the hall Lorraine will still break out a song. In her unit she loves listening to one of her current favourites David Hobson, and an old favourite, Russian composer Tchaikovsky. Lorraine’s musical talents were a case of nurture and nature. She inherited her mother’s fine voice and her father’s love of music. She grew up in Preston in a house filled with music and a piano her older brother bought her.


Lorraine was finishing school at Santa Maria College in Northcote when she won a scholarship to attend the then Melba Memorial Conservatorium of Music in East Melbourne. She wasn’t able to take up the scholarship, but it wasn’t the end of her musical endeavors. She sang in the Northcote Choral Society for many years and at 36 she and her friend and pianist Maureen McHenry recorded Schubert’s Ave Maria on vinyl. She still has the original vinyl and a relative recently had her version of the beautiful song put on a CD.


Life is good for Lorraine and she puts that down to the great care given her by the Leith Park staff, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs and her friends at Leith Park and beyond, many made during her two sons’ school years.


“The staff here are just wonderful and they will do anything for me,” Lorraine said.


Lorraine is fiercely independent and wants to remain in her unit. To make that easier she is slowly introducing some services including someone to help with the cleaning and soon she will have support to go shopping and bring her bags back to Leith Park. She has used the Leith Park bus for many years but now needs a little extra help. Her visits to the shopping centre also give her the chance to meet up with people she has met over the years.


“When you get to my age it can get a bit lonely because your friends are all dying and you miss them. But still, things are pretty good for me, I’m very lucky to be here.”

Dorothy Clayton has felt very much ‘at home’ since she moved into Braeside Park nine years ago. Now, Dorothy, the village’s volunteer pastoral care worker, tries to ensure that others also feel a sense of belonging in the Berwick village.

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